News Article Details

Social worker for state mental health agency dies by suicide in building on Connecticut Valley Hospital campus

Hartford Courant - 2/22/2019

Feb. 22-- Feb. 22--A state social worker with 19 years of experience took her own life last week inside a building on the grounds of Connecticut Valley Hospital in Middletown.

The employee had worked for the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services since August of 2000. Among her recent responsibilities were pre-trial drug and alcohol programs for first-time offenders. The Courant is not naming her.

Her suicide occurred on the morning of Feb. 15 inside Russell Hall, a CVH building that includes an employee fitness center and offices for laboratory and forensic services.

After her body was found, the mental health agency sent out a critical-incident stress management team, a group of trained agency employees who help co-workers deal with the immediate aftermath of a traumatic emergency. The chaplaincy unit also offered counseling.

In an email to colleagues dated Thursday, DMHAS Commissioner Miriam Delphin-Rittmon said the social worker was an accomplished professional with an infectious personality.

She "was a compassionate social worker with incredible skills that she put to good use navigating systems for our clients. She was funny, kind and always willing to take a moment to listen. She will be greatly missed," Delphin-Rittmon wrote.

She encouraged employees to take advantage of counseling.

"It is important that we all work to take care of ourselves and each other during this difficult time," Delphin-Rittmon wrote. "I encourage any staff who are having a hard time with coping with the loss of our friend and coworker, or any other matter, to reach out" to employee assistance programs.

The state senator who has led the call for increased oversight of the mental health agency following a patient-abuse scandal at Whiting Forensic Hospital said DMHAS should have been more transparent about a tragedy that occurred a week ago.

"This is heartbreaking news," Sen. Heather Somers, R-Groton, said Friday, sending her condolences to the social worker's family and colleagues.

She wondered whether the death at Russell Hall related to employee stress levels, and said one of the goals of increased oversight at Whiting and of the mental health agency was to help "ensure the mental and physical wellbeing of both patients and staff."

The social worker was listed in payroll records as a behavioral health clinician manager, a position that pays $106,914 annually. She was assigned to the commissioner's office.

Agency police and Middletown medics responded to Russell Hall. The Middlesex State's Attorney's Office was notified, which is standard procedure, according to an incident report.

Josh Kovner can be reached at jkovner@courant.com.

___

(c)2019 The Hartford Courant (Hartford, Conn.)

Visit The Hartford Courant (Hartford, Conn.) at www.courant.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

 
Processing...


Driving   Walking/Biking    Get Directions