According to the American Journal of Public Health (AJPH), around 40 percent of individuals who are 65 years and older will require “skilled residential nursing care,” and between five percent and 33 percent of long-term-care residents reported suicide ideation with the past 30 days.
Sadly, nursing home facilities show a higher rate of suicides at an annual rate of as much as 34.8 per 100,000 residents, compared with the rates among older adults living independently outside of nursing homes.
Because we admit our loved ones into nursing homes to care for them, especially in all the ways that are specific to the elderly’s unique physical and mental ailments, we trust that the facility staff will include in this care the assessment, treating, and management of residents who demonstrate suicidal ideation or potential.
If a nursing home failed your loved one in this capacity, and he or she committed suicide as a result, a Zanes Law mental illness and suicide lawyer in Phoenix, AZ will do everything from A to Z to champion your right to be compensated. Call (866)-499-8989 for a free, no-obligation consultation.
Risk Factors of Suicide in Nursing Home Residents
Research reported in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry revealed the following risk factors for suicides in nursing homes:
- Duration of residence
- Physical health
- Prior suicidal behavior
- Cognitive function
- Personal loss
The Question of the Nursing Home’s Role in Resident Suicides
Researchers remain divided on whether residents of nursing homes present a higher risk of suicide than members of their demographic who live out in the community at large. The arguments presented on each side go like this:
- Nursing home residents are at higher risk of suicide because they tend to manifest more of the typical risk factors for suicide in this age group, including mental health problems, functional disabilities, loss of independence, friends, and homes, and chronic illnesses
- Nursing home residents are at lower risk of suicide because they are screened for behavioral/mental health problems and suicide ideation, are monitored most of the day and do not have ready access to devices like guns that can facilitate a suicide
Research in this area rarely considers how the nursing homes themselves or their intervention protocols weigh in as risk factors for suicides among residents. Little is known about suicides in these facilities. However, research reported in APJH reveals that, besides psychiatric disorders, several factors unique to the facility do play a role, including bed size and high staff turnover.
What we do know, however, is that Minimum Data Set (MDS) requires nursing homes to screen their residents for symptoms of depression and suicidal ideation and to implement safety measures that can manage any suicide ideations or inclinations in residents who demonstrate in their MDS responses.
If your loved one committed suicide in the nursing home where he/she resided, Zanes Law’s legal team will investigate the facility’s liability and hold the organization and/or its staff liable for your loss.
Establishing the Nursing Home’s Liability for a Resident’s Suicide
Establishing a nursing home’s liability in a resident suicide means venturing into dense and complex territory. By definition, suicide victims cause their own deaths. The objective in such a legal case centers on proving that the nursing home played a role in the suicide.
By asking several questions, we will lay a solid foundation for this liability:
- Did the nursing home’s or its staff’s actions or inactions prompt the suicide?
- Did any of the nursing home staff know the resident was suicidal?
- Could other factors at the nursing home have played some part in the suicide?
By these criteria, if nursing home MDS indicates suicidal ideation or behavioral illness in your loved one before admission, and/or if the staff failed to respond to and manage potential risk factors, we can lay the groundwork for liability in your loved one’s suicide.
Gathering Evidence to Prove Liability for a Nursing Home Resident Suicide
Zanes Law’s mental illness and suicide lawyers in Phoenix, AZ will collaborate with psychologists and mental health experts to establish a framework for your loved one’s mental state around the time of his or her suicide.
We will also gather evidence from other sources, including statements we solicit from witnesses, photographs, and surveillance videos.
Establishing That a Nursing Home Was Negligent, At-Fault, and Liable
To pursue legal action against the nursing home where your loved one committed suicide, we will address all elements of the “duty of care” precept required by law:
- Duty of Care – Federal law answer the Duty of Care question for nursing homes, as they are required to implement and enforce practices that minimize resident infections.
- Breach of Duty of Care – Next, we need to prove that the nursing home breached its duty of care.
- Causation – We shall prove how the nursing home’s breach of duty prompted your loved one’s suicide.
- Damages – Finally, we demonstrate the damages resulting from your loved one’s suicide.
We will do everything from A to Z to prove your case that nursing home negligence caused your loved one’s suicide.
Zanes Law Mental Illness and Suicide Lawyer in Phoenix, AZ
No amount of compensation can bring back your loved one or heal the pain and suffering that haunts a family after a loved one commits suicide. Many suicides can be prevented, however, and we would expect as much when we entrust our loved ones to medical and trained professionals in a nursing home.
The mental illness and suicide lawyers in Phoenix, AZ at Zanes Law will do everything from A to Z to see that justice is served in the case of your loved one’s suicide in a nursing home. Call our firm at (866)-499-8989 for a free, no-obligation consultation.