Family Sues Mental Health Contractor in Oregon Bridge Suicide

April 20, 2017

The family of a woman who jumped off the Astoria Bridge in northwestern Oregon seeks nearly $1 million in a lawsuit filed against a county mental health contractor.

The lawsuit filed Saturday alleges Clatsop Behavioral Healthcare was negligent in not providing an adequate treatment and recovery plan for Carrie Barnhart as her mental health deteriorated.

The suit also names Clatsop County, Columbia Memorial Hospital and an emergency room doctor who treated Barnhart before her April 2015 suicide.

Amy Baker, the executive director of Clatsop Behavioral Healthcare, told The Daily Astorian she can’t comment on pending litigation but her heart grieves for anyone who loses a relative to suicide. The county and Columbia Memorial Hospital also declined comment.

The newspaper reports Astoria police responded to the woman’s threats of suicide four times in early 2015.

Police pulled her off the bridge one night in April 2015 and brought her to Columbia Memorial, where she was evaluated and then released after a few hours. Barnhart died the following week. She was 54.

“CBH failed the community, my client’s family and Carrie Barnhart,” said Jeremiah Ross, an attorney representing the family. “They were paid by the county to do a job and, simply put, they didn’t do it.”

The lawsuit alleges a case manager failed to have meaningful contact with Barnhart as her condition worsened. The suit faults the mental health agency and the county for hiring a case manager without proper experience to treat the mentally ill and for failing to adequately train the case manager.

The lawsuit alleges the hospital and emergency room doctor were negligent for releasing Barnhart back home, in walking distance of the bridge, without sufficient safeguards in place.

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Latest Comments

  • April 21, 2017 at 5:05 pm
    mrbob says:
    So sorry for your loss, I am certain that you are reminded of the tragedy everyday.
  • April 21, 2017 at 3:42 pm
    Craig Cornell says:
    My 25 year old son committed suicide on April 3, 2014. He was a wonderful person. Mental health is difficult; compared to physical medicine, mental health is in the Dark Age... read more
  • April 21, 2017 at 1:58 pm
    MaynardG says:
    On the surface, it looks like they really screwed up - but w/o more details on what actually transpired at the hospital and other background information on what did/didn't hap... read more
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