Boston, Holt & Durham, PLLC

Ex-husband files wrongful death suit in his wife's suicide

Mental health issues and mental illness have been making headlines in Tennessee and around the nation for some time now. It is a problem that many people are aware of but there appears to be a challenge when it comes to getting a handle on it. The recent suicide of a woman who was involved in a complex relationship and was fighting for custody of her son resulted in a wrongful death lawsuit that was filed by the woman's ex-husband.

The woman, a nurse, became involved with the psychiatrist she worked with. The affair caused the breakup of her marriage after which the couple shared custody of their son. The woman moved in with the psychiatrist but started suffering severe depression when she lost her job. During the relationship, the psychiatrist received a handgun as a gift and showed the gun to his then girlfriend. The gun was apparently not secured.

The woman had attempted suicide after her ex-husband sued for sole custody upon the discovery that the woman was planning on moving to another town with the psychiatrist; after a short period of treatment, that did not include follow up care, the couple broke up. Following that she was evicted and asked if she could stay in his home for a short time. He agreed and came home one evening to find her dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The suit brought by the ex-husband alleged that the psychiatrist, should have known of the danger of having a handgun and ammunition available to a depressed woman who had previously attempted suicide. The Tennessee Supreme Court ruled that since he did not give her the gun, he was not liable.

A person suffering from mental illness, unlike a physical illness, is suffering from symptoms that cannot easily be seen. Losing a loved one to suicide can cause feelings of grief and despair that even time may have a hard time healing. If a person in Tennessee loses a loved one to suicide that may have been a result of negligence, he or she may wish to consult with a personal injury attorney concerning the viability of a wrongful death civil suit.

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