Suicide is a significant public health problem in the United States, with over 47,000 people dying from suicide in 2017 alone. Since 2007, youth and young adult suicide rates have been steadily increasing in both Michigan and the United States.
On March 19, 2020, the Michigan Legislature enacted MCL 330.3003, creating the Michigan Suicide Commission effective December 31, 2024. The commission will be tasked with researching the causes and possible underlying factors of suicide in the State and recommending policy initiatives to reduce suicide rates.
While the commission is a step in the right direction, Michelle Burt hopes sharing the tragic story of her 15-year-old son’s suicide hours after he was released from a psychiatric hospital will lead to changes in current Michigan Law. Under Michigan Law 330.1274, psychiatric facilities must report the death of any patient within 2 days of their discharge to the State of Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs or “LARA.”
Since 2016, the State has received more than 161 patient death reports from the state’s 37 private psychiatric hospitals. But, as the good work of Channel 7 WXYZ investigative journalist, Ross Jones, has uncovered, in virtually all of the cases the state did not ask any questions or conduct any investigation into the deaths.
Johnathan’s case was no different. Pine Rest Christian Mental Health services reported his death days after it occurred. Despite the red flags and many questions surrounding Johnathan’s death, again the state did not ask any questions or conduct an investigation. Whether Johnathan’s death or others are part of a larger systemic problem in these facilities remains unknown without a closer look into the surrounding circumstances. Certainly, an investigation would provide a better understanding of why these deaths are occurring and afford an opportunity to improve the care that these vulnerable patients receive.
Like many of the medical malpractice clients who retain Grewal Law, Michelle has many unanswered questions about the care and treatment Johnathan received and whether it was appropriate. The Grewal Law’s medical malpractice team strives to find the truth and to hold medical providers accountable for negligent medical care. If you have questions about a loved one’s death shortly after they were released from a mental health hospital, or if you believe that you have been a victim of medical malpractice, contact the attorneys at Grewal Law.
A Graduate from the Florida State University College of Law, Leon Walsh, Jr. spent several years in Florida as an assistant public defender as well as working for a civil litigation firm where he gained valuable first-chair jury trial experience in both state and federal courts. Mr. Walsh now works for Church Wyble, PC in Northville, Michigan where he focuses on medical malpractice and complex personal injury claims.