Attempted Suicide

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Making the Case-Attempted Suicide
 
Selected Cook County Verdicts and Settlements
 
$1,425,000 Settlement:  F-32 psychiatric patient attempted suicide by drug overdose after she was refused further treatment by defendant-her doctor of six years-because her account balance was unpaid.  
 
Defense Verdict:  Plaintiff was under the care of defendant psychiatrist due to severe depression and anxiety. He had a history of two prior suicide attempts-including one while being treated by defendant. Plaintiff attempted suicide a third time by pouring gasoline on himself and lighting himself on fire. He survived the extensive burns but is significantly disfigured. Among other things, defendant allegedly failed to provide proper medical management of plaintiff’s psychiatric condition or offer psychotherapy. Defense argued that the standard of care had been met, and insisted that, even with medication and therapy, plaintiff was at risk for suicide due to his mental illness and multiple stressors.
 
$400,000 Settlement:  Allegedly, defendant psychiatrist prescribed medications without properly evaluating severely depressed F-54, and failed to follow-up afterward. As a result, plaintiff jumped from the third story of her home and sustained a pelvic fracture.  
 
Defense Verdict:  Plaintiff M-57 presented to a clinic and advised defendant, his longtime treating physician, that he was contemplating suicide. Another doctor at the clinic had diagnosed plaintiff with marked depression a week before, and had instructed plaintiff to return for follow-up in one week. Defendant doctor told plaintiff he was not qualified to treat the depression, and extracted a promise from plaintiff that he would follow-up. However, after leaving the clinic, plaintiff purchased razor blades and slashed both wrists. The resulting nerve and tendon damage caused permanent impairment of both hands. Plaintiff contended he was “high risk” and should have been referred to the E/R. Defense insisted that defendant physician was justified in relying on plaintiff’s promise that he would obtain psychiatric help, and asserted that plaintiff had both the ability and opportunity to choose treatment.
 
$1,500,000 Settlement:  Plaintiff teen, a resident of defendant’s facility, jumped from a second floor balcony, suffering spinal injuries that required six surgeries, but caused no paralysis. Allegedly, defendant’s personnel failed to follow rules mandating one-to-one watch of a suicidal minor.
 
Defense Verdict:  M-42 voluntarily entered defendant’s psychiatric unit due to polysubstance abuse and severe depression, and was placed on suicide precautions. Nonetheless, four days later, he was able to access tools, pry open the locked windows in an unoccupied room, and jump.  The resulting orthopedic injuries have permanently disabled him. Among other things, plaintiff noted that defendant’s psychiatric nurse had placed her initials in the suicide precaution log every 15 minutes for an hour after he had jumped. Defense denied that the jump was a suicide attempt, and argued that plaintiff was contributorily negligent because he was not devoid of reason when he jumped.