At the recent Army of Angel’s “Heroes with Hearts Gala” in Sacramento, CA Craig and Marianne Lomax shared Linnea’s story and proposed changes that they hope will help make save the lives of others suffering from mental illness.
Proposed Changes Inspired by the Tragic Story of Linnea Lomax
1. Improved Professional Training and Certification Requirements
1. Required curriculum/training for medical professionals that should be expected to recognize
those at risk of suicide. Currently Pediatricians and Psychologists (among others) do not
have standardized curriculum or requirements for suicide risk assessment as part of their
training. Although California mandates each county to have a Psychiatric Emergency Team
(PET), they are are not required to have suicide prevention training.
2. To increase the effectiveness of training for professionals such as; psychiatrists, social
workers, counselors/therapists, law enforcement etc. so that they are more capable of seeing
the less obvious signs displayed by those considering harming themselves or others. This
would include specialized training to detect patients who are pretending to be okay and/
or are lying about their thoughts (“faking good”). Currently,some professionals, such as
pediatricians, are not required to have any training in suicide prevention before becoming
3. In addition to training, alterations can be made to the “check-off lists” used to assess the
overall competency of these professionals before they are given their certifications; even on
the physician level. They should have to show that they have the aptitude to detect the more
elusive signs and symptoms of those at risk of hurting themselves or others.
2. Increased Public Awareness
1. Via education, family members can be better equipped to to recognize the warning signs
of mental health decline as well as the personality types and genetic family history that
may make some individuals more susceptible to mental illness. Perfectionistic children like
Linnea, for example, could be taught at an early age how to manage their gifts and feelings
to reduce the possibilities of mental illness later in life.
2. Education can also reduce stigmatism regarding mental illness that currently impairs many
individuals and families from seeking help or sharing their experiences with others.
3. Higher Standards for Hospital Discharge Decisions
1. Patients admitted to hospitals because they were believed to be at risk of hurting themselves
or others would have to go through more rigorous standards of evaluation before being
released. These new standards would include a standardized test designed to detect the risk
to harm; even among patients who are “faking good”.
4. Hospital Care Specifically Designed for Suicidal Patients
1. Depending on the economic resources of the hospital, inpatient facilities would have
programs specifically designed for patients at risk of harming themselves. Some hospitals
would have separate wards and/or teams of staff with specialized training, but all hospitals
would have standardized procedures/protocols designed for suicidal patients that would be
considered the minimum standard of care.
5. Accountability for Insurance Providers
1. Insurance companies make decisions that affect patient care and discharge decisions, but
many companies are protected legally from being liable for the decisions they make. When
they incorrectly deny coverage for care, insurance companies should (to an appropriate
degree) be held accountable for the results. For example, by not supporting a longer stay for
a potentially suicidal patient, the company may have a powerful influence over that patient’s
discharge timing. If the discharge ends up being premature, then the insurance company
should take at least a portion of the responsibility.
6. Protecting the Rights of the Mentally Ill
1. Laws and policies should be crafted to protect the patient in every
situation. In some mental illness cases, the legal rights designed to protect
the patient actually end up protecting the ability of the illness to continue
oppressing the patient, preventing them from making the decisions
necessary to begin recovery. Especially in the cases of those at risk for
suicide, laws and policies need to be established that provide the mentally
ill with the help critical to their recovery. The expediency of this
help (that often comes in the form of proper medication) is especially
important in situations where the appropriate length of inpatient stay is
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