hmmm...so whats going on at that place... Any gossip?
Cluster suicide is a complex issue in and of itself, but add in the hospital environment that already has a greater %'s of at-risk patients, and it is gets tricky. Cluster suicides can happen amongst an 'average' population, but they are far from 'predictable'....so I'm not sure if they can pin that idea in this situation. What a mess.
For those interested, The Journal of Suicidology* should have some good info on cluster suicides.
*I'm pretty sure that is still the name, awhile back some wanted to change the name.
It is an extremely unfortunate event. Jumping on to the conclusions about who's fault it is would be premature. it seems highly unlikely there will be negligence of mental health. pt's suicide is something we all psychiatrist dread and try to do our best to intervene . I can imagine the whole bandwagon of "VA investigators" would be looking into this tragedy. Unfortulately psychiatry is the feild of medicine in which there are lot of "non-psychiatrists" poking their noses , thinking they know a lot. the whole buerocratic intervention in psychiaty is much worse than anyother feild. In one of the VA's, the administrative staff "non-psychiatrist" come and assess performance of psychiatrists by looking at documentations, consult responses etc. i wonder they would dare to ask cardiaology,gi, surgeons or other doctors to allow this, they will eat them alive. just one of many issues you face being a psychiatrsit in a va. Utterly frustrating
Senators introduce veteran suicide-tracking bill.
The AP (4/23) reports that on Tuesday, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) "introduced legislation" to require the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) "to track veteran suicides." A "companion bill to legislation introduced by Rep. Leonard Boswell (D-Iowa) in the House," the senators' Veterans Suicide Study Act "would require the VA to report to Congress within 180 days how many veterans...committed suicide since Jan. 1, 1997, and continue to issue reports annually." While the VA currently "records suicides and suicide attempts in [its] facilities," it "does not track how many veterans commit suicide each year outside of those facilities." In light of a "recent report by the Rand Corp." which "shows that nearly 300,000 American military personnel returning from Iraq or Afghanistan suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder or depression," both senators said that many "returning veterans [are] at risk for suicide." Sen. Harkin stated, "We are looking at a real crisis among our veterans, and it is high time the VA recognizes it." Sen. Feingold added that the "lack of data on veteran suicides shows how much needs to be done to address their mental health needs."
Senate Democrats call for resignation of VA's head of mental health. In continuing coverage from yesterday's edition of Headlines, the CBS Evening News (4/22, story 7, 0:30, Couric) reported that on Monday, Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), "chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee, called for the resignation of" Ira Katz, M.D., Ph.D., "the head of mental health for the VA," following "allegations that the VA tried to cover up an epidemic of suicide among military veterans." Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) "also called for his ouster, saying, 'The number-one priority of the VA should be caring for our veterans, not covering up the truth.'" For his part, Dr. Katz "has denied there was any cover-up."
According to the AP (4/23, Daly), both senators said that Dr. Katz "withheld crucial information on the true suicide risk among veterans." In a letter to the VA's Under Secretary for Health, Michael Kussman, M.D., Sen. Akaka said that Dr. Katz's "'personal conduct and professional judgment' had been called into question by his response to veteran suicides." Therefore, the interests of "[v]eterans, and the VA itself, 'would be best served by his immediate resignation,'" Sen. Akaka stated. On its website, the Hawaii Reporter (4/22) ran the full text of Sen. Akaka's letter to Dr. Kussman calling for Dr. Katz's resignation.
Currently, a "national lawsuit by veterans rights groups in California court is accusing the agency of not taking any measures regarding a mental health crisis among veterans," AHN (4/23, Sharma) reports. And, "[a]s part of the lawsuit, internal emails written by" Dr. Katz "have been used as proof." In these emails, Dr. Katz "repeatedly suggested that though the risk of suicide among veterans 'is serious, it's not outside the norm.'"
On its website, CBS (4/22, Malbran) explains that it had "been trying to obtain veteran suicide and attempted suicide data from the VA. Earlier this year, the agency provided" the network "with data that showed there were a total of 790 suicide attempts in all of 2007 by veterans who were under the VA's care." But, on Feb. 13, however, Dr. "Katz sent an email" to his top media advisor, Everett Chasen, "indicating the total number of attempts was much higher." In the email, Dr. Katz wrote, "Shh! Our suicide prevention coordinators are identifying about 1000 suicide attempts per month among veterans we see in our medical facilities." Dr. Katz then asked, "Is this something we should (carefully) address ourselves in some sort of release before someone stumbles on it?" And, in another email message to Dr. Kussman, Dr. Katz mentioned "that there are 'about 18 suicides per day among America's 25 million veterans.' This is a figure that the VA has never made public."
In its On Deadline blog, USA Today (4/22) added, "In an email Monday to CBS News," Dr. Katz "wrote that the numbers were not released because of questions about the consistency and reliability of the findings."