This story reported by CNN is (sadly) not surprising. A 33-year-old vet went to the VA for help. Hours later he took his own life In fact, it is tragically familiar. We represent veterans and their families nationwide in medical malpractice cases against the VA. We get calls about potential suicide cases quite frequently, and they are uniformly heartbreaking.
The VA providing poor or inconsistent care to veterans who are at risk of harming themselves is old news. We see reports from all over the country. There is no question that the mental health care provided to our young veterans is often substandard, with often tragic results. Compounding the tragedy, sometimes there is very little we can do to help the survivors of these suicides.
Suicide cases are tough. The medical literature presents multiple studies showing that it is essentially impossible to predict suicides. This is true even in the country’s best medical facilities. This means that even when the care given to a veteran is appallingly poor – and we see those situations all the time – proving that the poor care was the “proximate cause” of the death is difficult. Even when the suicide is virtually contemporaneous with the last treatment, the link can be difficult to make and/or the other side has plenty of ammunition to attack that connection.
We have taken some of these cases because we thought the particular stories were compelling – and we thought it was the right thing to do. The VA needs to be challenged. Whether or not these matters ultimately succeed remains to be seen.
In the end, it would be better if the care was improved and the need to seek recourse after a tragic death became a relatively rare event. Let’s hope it happens, although I cannot say I am holding my breath in light of the VA’s long and checkered history in this regard.
If you are a Veteran or you know a Veteran who is showing any of these signs, call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat, or text to 838255 today.