Failing to Protect Nursing Home Patients from Risk of Suicide
While an elderly nursing home resident does not typically come to mind when you hear about someone taking their own life, depression and suicide are serious problems that can happen at any stage of life. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), suicide ranks as the tenth leading cause of death in the United States, with nearly 45,000 Americans ending their own lives each year. Although in 2016 the highest U.S. suicide rate was among adults between 45 and 54 years of age, AFSP reports that the second highest rate occurred in people who were 85 years of age or older.
Suicide is a health concern that is often overlooked in nursing home environments. While nursing homes are required to evaluate patients for depression and suicidal thoughts, these facilities are often understaffed, and risk assessments many not be conducted properly, if at all. A failure to perform an assessment and/or to take the time to develop an appropriate treatment plan can result in a suicide. The sad reality is that in many instances the suicide could have been prevented if the provider had taken the appropriate steps to identify and address the risks.
If your loved one took their own life or attempted suicide in a nursing home, you need to speak with a Florida elder neglect lawyer. You and your family are living with a nightmare that may have been preventable if the nursing home had taken appropriate measures to protect your loved one. At The Florida Law Group we understand just how tragic these situations can be. Our law firm offers free consultations where you can discuss your case with an attorney experienced in handling nursing home neglect and abuse cases.
Why Do Elderly Patients Living in Nursing Homes Commit Suicide?
Like individuals in the general population, it is often impossible to figure out the reason behind the suicide of a nursing home patient. Oftentimes, there are multiple factors combined that may have led the individual to end his or her own life. Many of the factors that put a person at risk for suicide are the same for elderly nursing home patients. These factors may include:
- Depression and mental illnesses
- Social isolation and feelings of loneliness
- Chronic pain
- Terminal illness
- Functional impairment
- Traumatic experience
- Substance abuse
- History of suicidal behavior
- Suffering a loss or fear of a loss of a loved one
- Feelings of worthlessness or being a burden on others
- Social stressors
- Taking medications associated with increased suicidal thoughts and behaviors
What Can Nursing Homes do to Help Prevent Patient Suicides?
While it can be difficult to determine whether a nursing home patient is contemplating ending his or her own life, there are many steps that a facility can take to help identify and address suicidal thoughts and behaviors among residents. These include:
- Conducting suicide screenings and risk assessments
- Developing appropriate care plans for at risk patients
- Providing suicide training and educational programs for staff members
- Ensuring that the facility has appropriate staffing levels
- Developing communication protocols and procedures among staff, physicians, mental health practitioners and other health care providers
- Monitoring patients who may be at risk for suicide
- Establishing protocols for responding to patient suicide attempts
- Providing group activities and other programs to help address social isolation among residents
Struggling with the Aftermath of a Nursing Home Suicide? We Can Help
The death of a family member is always hard to take, but losing a loved one to suicide is particularly heartbreaking. If someone you love took their own life or was harmed in a suicide attempt in a nursing home, you may have legal recourse against the facility. While nothing can ever erase your pain, you may be able to obtain financial compensation if the nursing home failed to properly care for and protect your loved one. The attorneys at The Florida Law Group understand just how tragic these cases can be and we will do everything we can to help you and your family get through this very difficult time. Call us today at 833-352-5297 to schedule a free consultation with a Florida elder neglect lawyer.