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Can a Suicide be the Result of Medical Malpractice or Negligence?

There was an interesting report about suicide in the U.S. released by the Center for Desease Control and Prevension in their weekly publication, "Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report". In case you don't subscribe to MMWR, I'll sum the report up for you. Suicide is on the rise in the U.S. We now have more annual deaths from suicide in the United States than we have from automobile accidents, with a substantail rise coming from middle-aged adults (35-64), posting an increase of 28.4% between 1999 and 2010.

Suicide of a loved one is clearly one of the most difficult occurences one might have to deal with in his or her life. If you have dealt with the issue, you likely have searched your mind for countless hours as to what, if anything, could have been done to prevent the occurence. There are some cases, although they are in the minority, in which a clear duty was breached and the estate of the deceased actually can hold a negligent party responsible.

In Massachusetts, these cases would come in the form of wrongful death actions, brought by the administrator of the deceased's estate. There are about 40 cases at this time which involve wrongful death actions after the occurence of a suicide. Some are brought under the theory of medical malpractice and some under a nonprofessional negligence theory. All wrongful death cases must be brought within 3 years, with little exception, from the date of death.


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