A 76 year-old veteran shot and killed himself on Sunday in the parking lot of a VA hospital that he had been a patient at, according to the Suffolk County Police Department.
Peter A. Kaisen, 76, committed suicide outside the nursing home of Northport Veterans Affairs Medical Center around 12:30 pm on Sunday.
Lt. Kevin Beyrer, a Suffolk County detective, said the FBI opened an investigation into Kaisen’s death because it occurred on federal property, the New York Times reported.
Two people connected to the hospital told the New York Times that Kaisen had gone to the E.R. to seek treatment regarding mental health problems, but was denied service. He then “went to his car and shot himself,” according to one of the people connected to the hospital.
The worker said Kaisen should have been referred to Building 64, the hospitals mental health center, which is open at all hours of the day. The worker added that the E.R. normally doesn’t have a psychologist on hand, but one was always on call.
“Someone dropped the ball,” the worker said. “They should not have turned him away.”
Christopher Goodman, a spokesman for the hospital, told the New York Times that there “was no indication that he presented to the E.R. prior to the incident.”
“The employees here at Northport feel this loss deeply and extend their thoughts and prayers to all those impacted by this tragedy,” Goodman added.
The Veterans Affairs medical system has been under scrutiny since the department confirmed in 2014 that dozens of veterans had died waiting for care at the Phoenix VA hospital system. Officials at the medical center purposefully omitted 1,700 patients from care wait lists and then tried to cover up long wait times. As of April, 2016, there are still problems with scheduling, according to a study by the Government Accountability Office.
According to a study by the VA, 20 veterans commit suicide daily which makes up for roughly 20% of all suicides in the United States.