Suicide and Psychiatric Malpractice

Suicide is always a tragedy. It is even more tragic when suicide results from the negligence of a mental health professional. Mental health patients and their families deserve proper mental health treatment. When they fail to receive this treatment, they need attorneys who have the knowledge and experience necessary to pursue their unique problems and concerns. By serving them, Juneau, Boll, Stacy & Ucherek, PLLC believes that we serve all those who – now or in the future – require mental health treatment.

Suicide also continues to be a leading cause of death within jails, prisons, and juvenile facilities throughout the country. Landmark studies from the National Center on Institutions and Alternatives (NCIA) have found that the suicide rate in county jails is several times greater than that of the general population, while the suicide rate in prisons is approximately one and a half times greater than in the community.

Twenty years ago it was unusual for a lawsuit to be filed following a suicide, but times are changing. Mental health practitioners, hospitals, treatment centers, and custodial facilities across the United States, and their insurance carriers, often incur large monetary judgments when juries find that appropriate assessments were not made, necessary policies were non-existent or substandard, and staff were inadequately trained to identify and deal properly with an obvious suicide risk.

Mental health practitioners, correctional administrators, and their staff can no longer invoke the defense that — “If someone really wants to kill themselves there’s generally nothing you can do about it” — unless the practitioner, agency, or custodial facility has implemented a sound suicide assessment, evaluation, and risk prevention policy that always includes the critical component of staff training. The risk of suicide cannot be minimized without a pro-active approach to the problem.

At Juneau, Boll, Stacy & Ucherek, PLLC our attorneys are experienced in this unique area of the law. We represent families who have suffered the loss of a loved one as a consequence of preventable suicide. We understand the physical, psychological, and emotional underpinnings of suicide, we know how to place responsibility where it belongs, and our lawyers have effectively litigated such cases in state and federal courts throughout the United States.

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