Suicide issues in the military

If you, like me and some of my colleagues, have personal experiences from military clients who commit, get stopped in the act, or consider suicide while pending court-martial, you are facing a difficult challenge.

My first was a client I was representing on appeal who hung himself in the SHU at the USDB. Sadly, I’d gotten the Dubay judge’s findings and conclusion which lead me to think he was getting a new trial. He died not knowing that. I’d written to him telling him what I thought would be good news. The mail room allegedly refused to give him that letter which lead to a chain of events ending with him in the SHU.

We all have to be sensitive to clients in distress. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if the client is experiencing the “normal” stresses of being in trouble.

IMHO the military is not set up to deal with the suicidal clients. Rather, and especially in sexual assault cases, the military casts the person aside; there are even some out there who encourage commanders and leaders to cast the accused aside, ignore them, and treat them as convicted “dirtbags.” Isolation from the unit, friends, and others is a potential breeding ground for a client’s mental health issues to become severe.

If you have a client you think is in personal danger to their own health you must consider getting that person help. Unfortunately that’s a potential problem for the case–client confidentiality, mental health privilege, and the possibility of pretrial confinement questions arise. if you have that situation and don’t know how best to deal with it–give me a call. I don’t have all the answers but I can help talk your way through it.

Dead Ghanaian USA Army man had been convicted of rape in court-martial