Culpable, or Merely Reprehensible? Driving Someone to Suicide

Worried arguing couple has financial crisis

Families for Depression Awareness for Care for Your Mind

Should our society prosecute the people who encourage or drive another to take their own life? We may be seeing the maturation of criminal justice in recognizing the vulnerability of people suffering from depression or bipolar disorder, bringing criminal charges against those who are in some way a significant reason for a person’s suicide.

Two Recent Cases
In Massachusetts, a teenage girl is accused of actively encouraging her boyfriend to take his own life. Through a series of texts, Michelle Carter’s support, advice, and even goading may have pushed Conrad Roy III to his death by suicide. But to what extent does a text – even one as unconscionable as “It’s now or never” – contribute to a person’s decision to attempt suicide? Ms. Carter has been charged with involuntary manslaughter.

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Is the “Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act” Ready for Prime Time?

Capitol

Things can move very quickly in DC when the right people are motivated. Case in point: Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) signaled that he wanted mental health legislation to reach a floor vote this year. So while H.R. 2646, sometimes known as the Murphy bill, seemed to be languishing, the leadership of the Energy and Commerce Committee worked to bring the bill to mark-up last Wednesday, June 15.

Some people opine that our democracy intends for citizens to advocate hard for their principles while accepting that competing points of views must also be acknowledged when moving legislation. Others believe that people should hold tight to their principles, never relenting.

Depending on your own philosophy, last week’s committee mark-up outcome is cause for celebration, acceptance of the inevitable, or reason to keep up the fight. Following is an overview of the bill that was voted out of committee. Insiders are saying that Speaker Ryan wants a full chamber vote later this summer.

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BCBS North Carolina Isn’t Paying Claims. People Are Suffering. What to Do?

rhonda karg

Rhonda Karg, Ph.D.
New Leaf Psychotherapy, Asheville, NC

Imagine being a small business owner. You’re passionate about what you do, you serve your community, and your main purpose is to help people in need. But suddenly your biggest client withholds payment for six months or more. Would you find this unacceptable, illegal, infuriating? How would you keep your doors open or pay your car insurance, phone bill, or mortgage?

For many behavioral health providers who’ve contracted with Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC), that’s the situation they’ve faced since January.

Citing a software problem, the insurance giant is now months behind on paying 9-15% of its claims from providers. In addition to the outrageous financial toll this is taking on clinicians—some of whom rely on BCBSNC for 90% of their income— thousands of patients statewide have lost their access to care.

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Health Insurance Mergers: Increased Profit, Not Better Care

Joseph Valenti

By Joseph Valenti, MD, FACOG
Past Chair, Council on Socioeconomics, Texas Medical Association

Think back to your last airline flight. After paying a premium price for your ticket you probably waited in a long check-in line, paid hefty baggage fees, dealt with delays—and spent hours in a cramped, narrow seat. (I assume, like most of us, you fly in economy.) Commercial flying has become increasingly miserable in recent years. But as travelers, most of us feel pretty powerless; if we want to fly, we have no choice but to take what the airlines are offering.

We can trace the unpleasant state of airline travel to one overriding cause: industry consolidation. In the past 12 years, 10 major U.S. airlines have merged into four mega-carriers—and they have all the power.

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