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Suicide and Wrongful Death

June 12th, 2018
By Zach Christiansen of The Bowling Christiansen Law Firm, A Professional Law Corporation posted in wrongful death on Tuesday, June 12, 2018.

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana. While it is very rare, some families are suing for wrongful death after a loved one commits suicide. For example, in San Diego, one mother is suing her son’s school for her son’s suicide, claiming that the school contributed to her son’s wrongful death by suicide. According to the mother, despite the school knowing that her son had been bullied, the school didn’t take steps to identify the bullies and put an end to the harassment. The mother is seeking damages for funeral costs and loss of comfort and support from her son. Reports indicate that the situation escalated when a school psychologist called the police because of an incident involving the child. The mother wasn’t notified.

Our actions can have an impact on those around us. How does the media’s coverage of recent suicides impact individuals who are suffering from depression and mental illness?

According to Vox, reports of suicide can have a contagion effect, in which people with similar backgrounds commit the act because they hear about it in the news. Some believe that reports of suicide may influence individuals who are suffering. According to Vox, in 1989, psychologists and journalists created guidelines about how to approach reporting about suicide. Some of the guidelines included simple ideas like asking journalists to avoid mentioning the method of suicide in the headline and to avoid describing the suicide in too much detail in the article.

Yet, in recent years, as more people consume their news through the internet, reporters don’t always temper their reporting or adhere to these guidelines. For example, when Robin Williams passed away, some reporters mentioned specific details about Williams’s suicide. According to the CDC, the suicide rate increased by 10 percent after Robin Williams’s death. People committing suicide using the same method the actor used also went up.

Yet, there are ways that communities can combat the contagion effect. Schools where a suicide has taken place should have additional crisis counselors on hand to help individuals and to offer guidance for teachers and staff. Communities where a suicide has occurred can also pool their resources to provide support. Knowing the warning signs, such as depression, loss of interest in former life activities, thoughts of suicide, problems sleeping, and other difficulties could mean a friend, family member, or loved one is at risk.

If you or a loved one is in trouble, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. Someone is available to speak to you 24/7.

If you have lost a loved one to suicide and feel that another person or party’s inaction may have played a role, consider speaking to the wrongful death lawyers in New Orleans, Louisiana at The Bowling Christiansen Law Firm. We may be able to help you understand what happened and what steps you can take to seek justice. Visit us at to learn more.

The Bowling Christiansen Law Firm, A Professional Law Corporation

1615 Poydras Street, Suite 1050

New Orleans, Louisiana, 70112

Phone: (504) 586-5200

Toll Free: (504) 586-5200

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