Failure To Prevent Suicide – Medical Negligence

By Megan Uley. Last Updated 18th November 2022. When it comes to mental health illnesses, medical negligence could lead to a failure to prevent suicide. The signs that someone is suicidal aren’t always obvious. However, mental health professionals should intervene if they feel someone is at risk of committing suicide. 

Failure to prevent suicide

Failure to prevent suicide

All medical professionals have to provide a minimum standard of care. If they provide a level of care that falls below this standard, they could be seen as negligent. This means you may be able to make a medical negligence claim if a medical professional has failed to prevent your family member’s suicide because they breached their duty of care. 

Failure To Prevent Suicide By Mental Health And Medical Professionals

If you’ve lost a loved one to suicide as a result of substandard medical care, our advisers are here to help. You can contact them today for 24/7 free legal advice. If your claim has a good chance of being successful, they can then connect you with a medical negligence lawyer from our panel to begin your claim.

To get in touch with our expert team of advisers, you can:

  • Call them on 0800 652 3087 to have a chat about your situation.
  • Fill in our online claims form to receive a response at your earliest convenience.
  • Chat with an adviser via our live chat pop-up box for an instant response. 

Select A Section

  1. What Is A Failure To Prevent Suicide?
  2. Mental Health Negligence – Missed Diagnosis
  3. Mistakes Leading To Preventable Suicides
  4. Why Claim Compensation For A Preventable Death?
  5. The Fatal Accidents Act And Dependency Claims
  6. What Is The Purpose Of An Inquest?
  7. What Happens At An Inquest Into A Preventable Suicide?
  8. Time Limits To Claim For A Preventable Death
  9. Calculate Damages For Failure To Prevent Suicide
  10. Mental Health Negligence – No Win No Fee Fatal Claims
  11. Get Help With Your Claim
  12. Suicide Statistics UK
  13. Support And Further Guides
  14. FAQs About The Failure To Prevent Suicide

What Is A Failure To Prevent Suicide?

In some cases, the mental health care provided falls below an acceptable standard. If this has led to your loved one committing suicide, this could be an example of medical negligence. As a result, you may be able to claim, whether it’s from the NHS or a private healthcare provider

The suicide of a family member can cause severe emotional distress. It can also cause financial strain, particularly if the person who committed suicide had family members who were financially dependant on them.

Medical professionals will not always be able to stop someone from committing suicide. Sometimes, someone who is receiving medical care will commit suicide even if they have received mental health care of an appropriate standard. It is only when the standard of care falls below this acceptable level that you may be able to claim for a loved one’s suicide.

To help establish medical negligence, solicitors can turn to a legal tool called the Bolam test. This is where the court will ask a panel of the healthcare professional’s peers whether the level of care administered was of an acceptable standard. If they confirm that it fell below this standard, the healthcare professional will be considered negligent.

If you believe a family member’s suicide could’ve been prevented, you may be able to claim with a medical negligence solicitor. Get in touch with our team today for more information and for a free, no-obligation valuation of your claim. 

Mental Health Negligence – Missed Diagnosis

Medical professionals are expected to provide a minimum standard of care to all patients. This includes correctly diagnosing conditions if a patient is showing clear symptoms.

If your loved one had presented signs of being at risk of suicide, and a failure to properly diagnose the symptoms led to a lack of treatment and eventually, suicide, then this could be a case of mental health negligence, and you could be eligible to make a claim.

Outside of a mental health professional failing to properly recognise the symptoms during a consultation, a missed diagnosis could be caused by:

A lack of referral: A failure to book a referral with a mental health specialist, despite a patient requesting, or showing clear signs that they were in need of help, can be an act of mental health negligence.

Late action: If friends or family had expressed concerns to a mental health professional, late actions or lack of action to intervene could be seen as medical negligence.

If you think you might be eligible, please reach out to one of our advisers to discuss medical negligence and mental health claims today.

Mistakes Leading To Preventable Suicides

Sometimes, a patient might be correctly diagnosed with a mental health condition that puts them at risk of attempting or committing suicide. However, mistakes can still occur, which lead to someone harming themselves. Some examples of errors that can lead to preventable suicides include:

  • Incorrect discharge of a patient from mental health services or hospital. If a patient is suicidal, they may need support from mental health services or the hospital. Prematurely discharging them from either of these could leave them with no help or supervision, which can lead to suicide.
  • Allowing access to sharp objects or tablets. If someone is showing suicidal behaviour or intent while in a hospital or other medical setting, they should be kept away from sharp objects and medication. This is because they can be used to attempt suicide.
  • Refusing to offer help to people who need it. If someone is clearly distressed and asks for professional help or medical care, this should be provided. At-risk patients should not be left with no help. If they are, a preventable suicide could occur due to negligence.
  • Failing to provide care to patients post-hospital discharge. Vulnerable patients need to receive appropriate care after being discharged from the hospital. Without this care, they may feel they have nowhere to turn and could harm themselves as a result. For instance, a patient may have been prescribed the wrong medication to treat their condition, with no follow-up appointments to check their progress. 

If you’ve lost a loved one to suicide and you believe the person who died was a victim of medical negligence, you may be able to claim with a medical negligence lawyer. Our team of advisers can have a chat with you about your situation to offer you 24/7 free legal advice.

Why Claim Compensation For A Preventable Death?

When losing someone you love to suicide, filing a medical negligence claim may not be the first thing on your mind. However, making a claim can be helpful in a number of ways. Here are some benefits to making a claim for a failure to prevent suicide:

  • A solicitor can seek an apology from the negligent party. Of course, an apology doesn’t bring your loved one back or alleviate your grief. However, our panel of medical negligence lawyers can pursue recognition of responsibility for the events that occurred.
  • It can provide money for counselling. After losing a loved one to a preventable suicide, you and your family members may need therapy or counselling. The compensation you could receive from your claim can help to fund this therapy and help you move forward with your life.
  • It seeks the truth – A medical negligence claim can help figure out exactly what happened and who was responsible. This can help to bring a sense of closure to the family members of the deceased as it offers an explanation as to what happened.
  • It can help with finances if you were dependent financially on your loved one. If you were financially dependent upon your deceased loved one, the compensation you could receive from a medical negligence claim could help. 

You can also report a doctor who you felt acted negligently, resulting in your loved one’s death.  While this will not result in you being awarded compensation, it could provide further information on the mistakes that were made.

Our team of advisers are always available to offer advice regarding your situation. If you have a valid claim, they can connect you with a lawyer from our panel to discuss No Win No Fee agreements with you.

The Fatal Accidents Act And Dependency Claims

The Fatal Accidents Act 1976 allows people to claim if they were financially dependent on someone who died as a result of a breach of duty of care. Dependents can claim under this act for:

  • Loss of financial dependency due to the death. If you were financially dependent on someone who has died, you could experience financial hardship after their death. You may be able to claim if this is the case.
  • The ‘Statutory Bereavement Award’. This is a fixed amount of compensation available to certain family members who lose a loved one as a result of negligence. It can only be claimed by a wife, civil partner, husband or children whose parents deceased when they were under 18. 
  • Loss of ‘services’ dependency. The deceased person may have provided a service for a family member or loved one, such as caring for their health. If this now has to be carried out by a professional worker who needs to be paid, they may be able to receive compensation to fund this.

There may be other things that can be included when you claim for the death of a loved one. If you’d like to discuss this further with one of our advisers, please get in touch with us today.

What Is The Purpose Of An Inquest?

The government website states that an inquest must be opened if there’s a suspicion that the cause of the death wasn’t natural. An inquest is an inquiry that aims to answer the following questions: 

  • Where and when the deceased died
  • How they came by their death
  • What medically caused their death

An inquest doesn’t look to allocate blame or criminally hold someone accountable for the death. It simply aims to provide facts about how the person died and why. 

An inquest can provide the family with the chance to ask questions about their loved one and offer them answers about how the death occurred. A medical negligence solicitor may be able to offer you guidance and support throughout the inquest; speak to a member of our team today to find out more. 

What Happens At An Inquest Into A Preventable Suicide?

Inquests into a preventable suicide are held in an open court, meaning any friends and family of the deceased can attend. The coroner will usually need at least one family member to attend, which is often the person from whom the police received the background statement. Therefore, it may not always be the next of kin.

If the coroner doesn’t need a family member to attend, the closest family member will still be told about the court date and be invited to attend if they want to. If a family member is required to attend but wishes not to, they can complete an application to be excused. 

At the beginning of the inquest, you’ll have to swear an oath that you will tell the truth. If there is a jury, they will also be sworn in. After this, the coroner will read out your statement and ask if you’d like to change or add anything to it. The coroner will also read other witness statements and ask any questions they have.

You will also have the opportunity to ask any questions you may have. After all the evidence has been looked at, the coroner will conclude the findings. If there’s a jury, they will be sent out to come to their conclusion. 

Please note that an inquest isn’t the same as a trial. The inquest will state facts about how the person passed away and what caused it. However, the coroner cannot sentence or penalise anyone. An inquest can take anywhere from half an hour to a number of days.

Time Limits To Claim For A Preventable Death 

The general medical negligence claims time limit is three years. This means you have three years to make a claim from the exact date you suffered the injury or three years from when you discover that the injury was due to someone else’s negligence. The latter is called the “date of knowledge”. However, there are some exceptions to this.

If you’re making a claim while underage, the three-year time limit begins on your 18th birthday. Before this, a litigation friend can act on your behalf to make a claim for you. A litigation friend is an adult who has your best interests at heart who represents you.  

Similarly, if you lack the mental capacity to claim, the three-year medical negligence time limit begins in the event that your recovery commences. Otherwise, someone close to you can act as a litigation friend to make a claim for you, and the time limit is suspended.

Please don’t hesitate to contact our expert team of advisers today. They’ll be happy to offer you advice about making a claim for a medical professional’s failure to prevent suicide. 

Calculate Damages For Failure To Prevent Suicide

Some articles may include a medical negligence claims calculator; however, we have instead included a compensation table with the latest Judicial College Guidelines figures. This illustrates how much compensation various injuries may be valued at. The table is for example purposes only, and the figures may vary.

Brain DamageVery SevereThe person may be able to follow some basic commands. However they will need constant care and will show little response to their enviroment.£282,010 to £403,990
Brain DamageModerately SevereThe person will be significantly disabled and will depend on others.£219,070 to £282,010
Brain DamageModerate (i)There is a serious intellectual deficit, with an effect on speech and sight and personality change.£150,110 to £219,070
Brain DamageModerate (ii)There is a moderate intellectual deficit with some risk of epilepsy. Working ability is also significantly reduced.£90,720 to £150,110
Kidney(a)Both kidneys are lost or permanently damaged.£169,400 to £210,400
Kidney(b)Significant risk of the kidneys natural function being lost, or of future urinary tract infections.Up to £63,980
Kidney(c)One kidney is lost, but the other is not damaged.£30,770 to £44,880
Psychiatric Damage GenerallySevereThe injured person will be unable to cope with daily life and the prognosis will be very bad.£54,830 to £115,730
Post-Traumatic Stress DisorderSevereThe person will suffer from permanent effects that will stop them from being able to function as they did pre-trauma.£59,860 to £100,670
Digestive Systmem(b)(i)Severe toxicosis that causes a fever, vomiting, and acute pain. The person may also be admitted into hospital for a few days or weeks.£38,430 to £52,500

If a claim is successful, the payout may consist of two parts. These are general damages and special damages. 

General damages provide compensation for the actual injury and the physical and psychological effect it’s had on your life. The awarded bracket is based on the severity of the injury and how long the treatment is. 

Special damages award compensation for the financial impact the injury has had on your life. For example, you may have been financially dependent on the deceased, and their death has left you struggling with money. Please note that it’ll be harder to receive special damages if you don’t provide evidence, such as bank statements or receipts. 

Mental Health Negligence – No Win No Fee Fatal Claims

If you are eligible to claim for mental health negligence, you may wish to do so with the support of a No Win No Fee solicitor. A solicitor such as this could offer you a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA).

Our panel of solicitors could offer to represent you on a No Win No Fee basis if they believe your claim has a chance of being successful. Working with a No Win No Fee solicitor could mean:

  • Generally, you won’t have to pay your solicitor anything upfront for them to start working on your claim.
  • Usually, there is nothing to pay throughout the process of your claim.
  • If your solicitor is successful with your claim, you will pay them a legally capped success fee. This is taken from your compensation award.
  • If the claim fails, you will not be expected to pay your solicitor for the services they provided.

Contact our advisors today for further information concerning medical negligence and mental health claims.

Get Help With Your Claim

Would you like to receive free legal advice after losing a loved one because of a failure to prevent suicide? If so, you can contact our team of advisers today. They’d be happy to have a chat about your situation and offer you support and guidance.

If your claim has a good chance of being successful, they can connect you with our panel of solicitors, who can begin working on your medical negligence claim with you. In addition, once you’ve had a chat with our friendly team of advisers, you’re under no obligation to continue with our services.

You can contact our team of advisers by:

  • Calling them on 0800 652 3087 to discuss your situation.
  • Filling out our free online claims form to get a reply whenever is best for you.
  • Talking with one of our advisers through our live chat pop-up box for an immediate reply.

Suicide Statistics UK

The table below contains figures taken from the Samaritans. It shows the number of suicides in England and Wales in 2018 and 2019. As you can see, the suicide rate increased over the year.

There were 5,370 suicides in England and Wales in 2018 compared to 5,691 in 2019. Unfortunately, that means there were 321 more suicides in 2019 compared to 2018. It’s important to note that these are the number of suicides reported as a whole and not instances where a medical professional has failed to prevent suicide because of a breach of duty of care. 

Support And Further Guides

In this section, we’ve included some further guides and articles to give you as much information as possible about medical negligence. 

Help For Suicidal Thoughts – If you’re experiencing suicidal thoughts, this NHS guide includes information about helplines you can call to receive the help and support you need.

Overview – Clinical Depression – This NHS article includes the symptoms and treatment options for clinical depression. 

Depression Self-Assessment – If you suspect you may be suffering from depression, you can complete a self-assessment on this NHS page. 

Below, you can find links to all of our medical negligence claims guides:

FAQs About The Failure To Prevent Suicide

This section includes some frequently asked questions about the failure to prevent suicide.

Could I get the statutory bereavement award?

There’s a select group of people who may be eligible to receive the statutory bereavement award:

  • Husband
  • Wife
  • Civil partner
  • The parents of a child who died under the age of 18 

Cohabiting couples who are not married may be able to bring a claim for the statutory bereavement award; however, the Court must be satisfied that they were living together for two years before the death.

How long do claims take to payout?

The amount of time it takes a medical negligence claim to be settled can vary depending on a number of factors. These include, amongst other things, whether liability is clear or under some dispute. 

Will I get a payout before my case is concluded?

You will usually only get a payout if your case is successful. However, if the defendant admits liability, but the amount of compensation you are owed is still being determined, you may be able to receive an interim payout. 

How do I maintain my medical privacy?

Our panel of lawyers will keep all of your medical details and information private and confidential. All your information is protected at all times. 

Thank you for reading our article about the failure to prevent suicide.