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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Veterans Health Care: Minneapolis VA faulted after Vietnam vet's suicide


Schwirtz served in the Marines between 1971 and 1975. He was on full disability from illnesses that included multiple sclerosis, depression and chronic pain.

In January 2011 he told a VA therapist he was feeling depressed but that he wasn't likely to hurt himself because of the effect it might have on his family. Five days later, he was hospitalized after he cut his throat.

Two days after he left the hospital, he went to the Minneapolis VA for a checkup. He confirmed the suicide attempt to a nurse and was admitted. Two staff members conducted suicide-risk assessments and concluded that his risk level was "heightened."

He was discharged after three weeks and had occasional contact with the VA over the next several months.
Schwirtz died in June 2011 after he doused himself with gasoline and lit himself on fire.

The recent report marks the second time in a year that the Minneapolis VA has been criticized for how it handled suicidal veterans.

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