Veteran’s suicide on VA grounds spurs calls for help

Veteran’s suicide on VA grounds spurs calls for help – CBS 5 – KPHO

The growing number of veteran suicides is an issue that took center stage at the VA Medical Center in Phoenix on Tuesday.It has been a hot-button issue for veterans for a while, but in Phoenix it was magnified two weeks ago by the suicide of a veteran on VA property.

“I think he’s a martyr for what he did,” veteran Brandon Coleman said of Thomas Murphy, who tragically took his life while sitting in the parking lot of the VA administrative offices in downtown Phoenix.”I believe it was a symbolic act and that he did it because he would want us to talk about it,” Coleman said.

“Thanks for nothing VA,” Murphy wrote in his suicide note.

He blamed the VA for doing nothing to help him with his chronic pain and said the VA wanted to take away the pain medication he was receiving.

I believe most of us pain patients have a similar reaction when doctors stop or greatly reduce our pain medication. Especially since it’s usually not for a medical reason, but to conform with the anti-opioid hysteria sweeping the country.

I have to admit I have contemplated doing the same thing: walking into the office of my propaganda-blinded doctor and shooting myself right there in the waiting room, making sure to leave a note placing the blame squarely on my new lack of access to opiates to treat my lifelong chronic pain.

“They get denied and then they feel you know like nobody cares and it’s just like I said a spiral downward,” Louis Albin said.

The latest VA study shows 22 veterans a day commit suicide. But Coleman, a VA whistleblower who worked with suicidal vets, said the study left out statistics from California, Illinois and Texas and the totals are completely false.

Considering the extremely high populations of these states, it makes no sense to have excluded their data from the study.

“If they gave the American people the real numbers – 45, 50, 60, a day – would you let your kids join the military?” Coleman said.

“Absolutely it’s higher than 22,” he said. “They need to do an accurate study that includes all 50 states by someone outside of the VA.

I’m not at all surprised at these numbers. Not only do we send our young people into a messy, poorly defined, unpopular war, but then we deny them proper medical care afterward.  If the VA admitted how many in the military end up killing themselves, it would be a PR fiasco.

VA officials say they’ve made changes since Coleman blew the whistle on issues with how suicidal veterans are treated at the emergency room at the Phoenix VA Hospital.

10 thoughts on “Veteran’s suicide on VA grounds spurs calls for help

  1. Pingback: Thinking of you, Thomas Murphy | All Things Chronic

  2. painkills2

    “I have to admit I have contemplated doing the same thing…”

    You’re not the only one. Sometimes I think there would have to be a mass suicide of chronic pain patients on the steps of the Capitol before anything is done to help us.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Zyp Czyk Post author

    Every time I feel on the edge, I realize that if my life is going to be over anyway, I must use it to draw attention to our plight. It would be such a waste to do it privately.

    I hope that every chronic patient who ends up killing themselves over lack of access to opioids makes sure to leave a note explaining how these meds were the only thing had been keeping them alive.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Payne Hertz

    I have also thought the same thing, that if I were to commit suicide I would do it in the VA parking lot with a nice note telling them where to stick it. But I don’t imagine it would make a damn bit of difference or anyone would care a wit. I recently told a doctor there that I am at the end of my rope and was considering suicide. He wrote in my medical records that “patient’s affect is WNL (within normal limits) and also that I appeared “comfortable” and “in no apparent distress.” After blowing me off he offered to pray for me.

    Of course, the right to die peacefully without being fleeced by the medical profession is another right that is denied us. They deny you the right to treat your own pain leading to the total destruction of your health, than they deny you the right to end your torment through suicide because “effective pain treatments exist.”

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Payne Hertz

        That was an interesting an enlightening exchange. I have begun to question the whole “right-to-die” movement and its emphasis on “assisted” suicide and the exclusion of this right to anyone who isn’t terminal with 6 months to live. Once again the medical profession has to have veto power over our choices meaning assisted suicide isn’t any more of a “right” than getting pain treatment is.Why not fight for the right to suicide, period?

        What happens if your projected expiration date is longer than the requisite six months? Does that mean you have to wait until you qualify? How does it make any sense to allow assisted suicide for those who have 6 months of torture remaining on their sentence while denying it to non-terminal people who may have 20-30 years or more remaining? Is six months the maximum time the medical industry is willing to allow you to escape from its clutches?

        Why the need for “assistance?” Is the doctor going to swallow the ($1,000) pill for you? If you wish to assist my suicide get 4 strong doctors to carry my sedan chair to the rim of the Grand Canyon, fill my opium pipe, light a fire and then get the fuck out of my sight. Forever.

        Liked by 1 person

          1. Payne Hertz

            That’s just the point: somebody doesn’t have to prescribe these meds, it’s just the way the system is set up. A right to suicide would entail the right to access the drugs needed to die without a hall pass from a doctor. “Assisted” suicide entails doctors having veto power over your decision, therefore it is not a “right” but an option a doctor can either grant or refuse at his whim, just like with pain medication. Neither should be subject to anyone’s decision but your own.

            As far as SS Disability is concerned, I would be careful what you say as far as being depressed, if that is the basis by which they granted it. As I understand it, SSDI doesn’t consider severe pain alone to be evidence of disability, there has to be some kind of physical dysfunction accompanying the painful condition that makes you unable to work. It is also often easier to qualify for SSDI on the basis of psych problems than physical ones, despite there usually being more evidence for the latter.

            It seems a better tactic would be to fight the insurance company on the basis that you have severe physical impairments and therefore should be covered irregardless of whether you have major depression or not.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. painkills2

              Social Security doesn’t recognize TMJ either, which is the physical dysfunction that eventually caused my intractable pain condition. Since LTD insurance cuts off benefits for mental illness after 2 years, if I did suffer from Major Depressive Disorder, I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t. If SS cuts off my benefits, I guess I’ll be homeless, which is something I’ve worried about since I first became disabled 10 years ago. Seriously, I’ve tried to learn about how to survive while homeless so I’ll be prepared. WalMart parking lot, here I come…

              Liked by 1 person

            2. Payne Hertz

              I hope it doesn’t come down to that. It is one thing for the insurance to say they won’t cover mental health treatments, but to cut off your benefits when you have a concurrent physical disability seems bizarre.

              Assuming your SSDI alone doesn’t cut it there is always Mexico as a last resort. I have contemplated this myself due to the outrageous cost of living in New York and getting buried under one too many 3+ feet snowstorms. Here is a cost comparison between Ensenada, Mexico which is 70 miles south of San Diego and has San Diego weather and Albuquerque. Note these are based on user input and the real world may vary.


              Liked by 1 person

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