I’ve often wondered how many injured workers either contemplate or commit suicide out of despair and feeling that suicide is their only recourse to ending the constant pain in which they’ve been forced to live with. I’ve grown accustomed to the blank stares that I receive when I’ve poised this question to various “leaders” in our state’s workers’ compensation system. No one seems to be able to provide me with a definitive answer to my question so I decided to do an Internet search. The search failed to provide any links to statistics of how many injured workers commit suicide, but it did provide pages of links about individual injured workers who had committed suicide. Most notable was an article from the Insurance Journal. Apparently in September 2007 a Massachusetts Appeals Court in Suffolk County found that a suicide qualifies for benefits if it is “simply causally connected to the unsoundness of mind resulting from the injury, without having to show any particular quantity or quality of that cause.” A very interesting finding, no doubt.
An investigative report by NBC Bay Area ran a three-part investigative news story, and in Part II they share the story of Nurse Lorrie Mays, who was injured at work in 2003 and ended up taking her own life in 2016. Her mother, Ms. Dismuke, cited a letter her daughter received in February from an Independent Medical Review denying her appeal for additional treatment for her depression, as the proverbial last straw for her daughter. Mays committed suicide shortly thereafter. Dismuke share with the NBC Bay Area reporters about finding additional letters written by her daughter that described her despair and frustrations trying to get appropriate medical care that she thought would make her better. You can read more about her story, here.
Below you’ll find a few more links that show a link between lack of appropriate medical care and suicide.
Next up the link between financial stress and suicide