Suicide Malpractice


There are few medical events more stigmatized or with more popular misconceptions and myths than suicide. Perhaps the most prevalent myth is that many or most people who have attempted suicide or expressed suicidal ideation are “destined” to commit suicide and nothing and no one can prevent it from happening. The reality is that most suicidal individuals are highly ambivalent, that the suicidal impulse is an acute condition that can pass in time, and that suicide can often be prevented by timely medical intervention. When medical professionals fail to meet standards of care when treating individuals at risk of suicide, they should be held accountable.


When a patient is admitted to a hospital’s emergency department following a suicide attempt, doctors evaluate the person’s physical and mental health. This evaluative procedure is a complex, detailed, and time-consuming process informed by the physician’s training and experience. It is an active process in which the clinician evaluates suicidal intent and lethality, dynamic meanings and motivations for suicide, the presence of a suicidal plan, the presence of overt suicidal/self-destructive behavior, the patient’s physiological, cognitive, and affective states, his or her coping potential and epidemiologic risk factors.

After a thorough assessment has been conducted, an individual treatment plan must be designed. Success is more likely when the treatment plan rests on a solid foundation of data and assessment. Psychiatrists (and other medical doctors or providers) in Connecticut have a duty to involuntarily commit a patient who is suicidal or poses an imminent risk of self-harm if efforts at encouraging voluntary admission fail.

Giving the evaluative process short shrift or failing to appropriately respond to the clinical presentation can be deadly.


When suicide occurs in a medical setting, a medical malpractice lawsuit may be necessary to hold a healthcare provider accountable and to ensure that the opportunities to prevent further avoidable deaths are not squandered.

For instance, a psychiatrist or other healthcare provider may be liable for failing to properly assess a patient’s suicide risk by failing to learn about prior suicide attempts, suicidality, and feelings of hopelessness and anxiety, failing to take into account the person’s behavior prior to discharge from the hospital, or failing to adequately obtain and consider data from collateral sources such as the patient’s family.

If you lost a loved one to suicide due to negligence in a medical setting, our attorneys would be honored to speak with you about your potential legal options. There’s no cost and no obligation, and our conversation is totally confidential. Contact us today to speak with an experienced suicide malpractice attorney.

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