Back in April, a much-respected lawyer in Washington, DC committed suicide after being laid off. I didn’t post the story at the time because, quite simply, I couldn’t figure out what to say.
Friends and colleagues remember Mark Levy as a true professional who had little use for the business of law. The article suggests that Levy lacked the ability to bring in business and that he was never able to match his legal successes with financial ones.
I still don’t know quite what to say about this story, but it seems to me that the profession needs to pay attention. It’s a tragedy. I believe that suicide is never the answer, and I have deep compassion for those who feel that it’s the only answer. I’ve written previously about depression and suicide prevention among lawyers. It seems clear to me that the pressures of the current economy and layoffs contribute to an even higher level of stress and unhappiness, and perhaps — though I’m not a mental health professional — leading to more depression.
Every state has a Lawyers Assistance Program (LAP) that works to help lawyers who are depressed or dealing with substance abuse. The ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs maintains a referral hotline for lawyers in crisis: 1-866-LAW-LAPS.