Tragically, suicide affects thousands of families and loved ones each year. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in our country. In fact, more than 47,000 people died in 2017 alone as a result of suicide. When this kind of tragedy occurs, friends and loved ones are often left with many unanswered questions.
Although many questions regarding a person’s suicide attempt cannot be answered, a question that often comes to mind is the question of legal liability, which might have an attainable answer. Are certain people to blame, or simply negligently liable, for a person who takes their own life? Continue reading to learn the realities of legal liability and suicide.
Duty of Care and Negligent Supervision
Many people will find ways to end their lives even if others attempt to step in and help. Basically, there are times when there is nothing anyone could have done to stop a person from committing suicide. On the other hand, there are some circumstances in which it may be possible or probable for a person to be legally responsible for a victim of suicide. People in the above roles have a legal “duty of care” to responsibly monitor, care, or supervise a person in their custody to prevent them from harm, even from themselves.
Whether a patient in the care of medical professionals, or a child in the care of their own mother or father, there is a steadfast legal standard of care. This includes parents, caregivers, guardians, medical professionals, and even school officials. The underlying legal matter is referred to as, “negligent supervision.” See our blog, “3 Common Examples of Negligent Supervision” for help understanding more about this legal principle.
If a student chooses to commit suicide on school grounds, it could be argued that certain school officials neglected their duty to responsibly “supervise” and care for the student. After all, it is the school’s legal responsibility to provide safe and supervised environments for all students and faculty. This includes protecting kids from severe bullying that could lead to mental health issues and eventual suicide attempts. Also, if school officials, like counselors or nurses, are aware of a child’s suicidal considerations, it may be their duty to thoroughly inform the parents right away.
As for parents of children that commit suicide, they could face possible legal repercussions for risking injury to a minor as a result of an unhealthy or volatile home. Parents are expected by courts and government officials to provide necessary mental health treatment, as well as, standard medical care, for their children. If a parent knows their child suffered from mental health issues and does nothing to address it, it could be argued that parents, or legal guardians, neglected this “duty” that resulted in the child’s suicide. Until a child or minor reaches the age of 18, or becomes emancipated, they are legally under the care and responsibility of their parents of legal guardians. This can also apply to children who are older than 18 and mentally or physically handicapped and dependent on their guardians.
Aside from school officials and legal guardians, other people might be help legally liable for a person’s suicide under certain circumstances. Psychiatrists, medical doctors, nurses, and similar health care professionals also carry a particular “duty of care” for their patients. All of this strictly depends on the specific circumstances, as well as, establishing that there was a duty of care owed.
Talk to a Personal Injury Lawyer for Advice
If you believe your child or loved one was a victim of negligence that resulted in suicide or serious injury, it is important to consult a licensed Indiana personal injury lawyer for professional guidance. You may be legally entitled to compensation for your losses and damages. Call The Law office of Craven, Hoover, and Blazek P.C. at 317-881-2700 to schedule a free initial consultation, today.