A social worker who worked at the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services for almost 19 years died by suicide at Connecticut Valley Hospital in the morning of February 15th.
The social worker, who we are not naming, had worked for the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services in Connecticut since August 2000. In that time she had risen to occupy her most recent position as a behavioural health clinician manager, a role with an annual salary $106,914.
Being directly assigned to the commissioner’s office, her duties included overseeing pre-trial drug and alcohol programs for first-time offenders.
The Hartford Courant reports that her suicide occurred inside Russell Hall, a hospital building that includes staff offices and an employee fitness centre.
In an email sent to colleagues in the days following the social worker’s death, the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services Commissioner Miriam Delphin-Rittmon praised both her personal and professional qualities:
“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”
“She encouraged employees to take advantage of counselling”
“It is important that we all work to take care of ourselves and each other during this difficult time. 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”
Speaking about the tragedy in the days following, Republican State Senator Heather Somers described the death as “heartbreaking news” and called for increased oversight of the mental health agency where the social worker was employed.
Wondering whether the social worker’s suicide was related to high employee stress levels, Senator Somers reminded agencies that they had a duty of care towards their employees which means they need to “ensure the mental and physical well-being of both patients and staff.”