Is There Liability for Suicide of a Mental Patient ?

In Dallas County Mental Health and Mental Retardation v. Bossley, 968 S.W.2d 339, 343 (Tex. 1998), the plaintiffs alleged that a mental health facility was negligent in failing to prevent a suicidal patient from escaping and committing suicide. 968 S.W.2d at 340-41. According to the plaintiffs, the mental health facility was negligent in unlocking an outer door without determining whether the patient was nearby and for failing to lock an inner door. See Bossley, 968 S.W.2d at 343. the court rejected the plaintiffs' claims holding that neither act or omission could be said to have caused the patient's suicide. See id. The court held that while the failure to keep the doors locked permitted the patient to escape, it did not cause his death. See id. After the patient escaped, he ran half a mile and then attempted to hitchhike on both sides of the freeway. See id. Only when he was about to be apprehended by staff from the facility did he leap in front of an oncoming truck. See id. The court reasoned that: Although Roger's escape through the unlocked doors was part of a sequence of events that ended in his suicide, the use and condition of the doors were too attenuated from Roger's death to be said to have caused it. Id.