Usually I use this column to highlight lawyers doing nonlawyerly things.
Sadly, suicide is becoming a lawyerly thing to do. As we know, over the past 4 years, at least 5 Vermont attorneys have taken their own lives. I know a sixth whose death technically was not a suicide. But it was.
We must continue to work to make the profession a healthier place.
Ten years ago today, Joanna Litt married Gabe MacConaill. Gabe was an attorney. He’s not here to celebrate his anniversary. He took his own life last month.
A few days ago, The American Lawyer published a letter from Joanna. It’s here. The Tax Prof Blog has it for free here. Reporting on the letter, Above The Law has Jill Switzer’s post on how lawyer suicides are becoming too frequent.
Joanna’s letter is heartbreaking. It should make us double our resolve to destigmatize a lawyer’s decision to admit that he or she needs help.
Sometime in the next few months, the Vermont Commission on the Well Being of the Legal Profession will issue a state action plan. I expect that the plan will reference, if not incorporate, aspects of the ABA’s mission to convince legal employers to pledge to commit to a healthier work environment. My post on the pledge is here.
Consider the pledge.
In the meantime, odds are that many of us know a lawyer who is fighting the fight that Gabe fought. Let’s do what we can to encourage that lawyer to seek help.
So that his or her Joanna doesn’t have to write a letter.
Free, confidential services are available 24/7 for people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress and for those around them. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). A crisis text line is at 741-741.