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Man commits suicide inside TN VA hospital

Tennessee Valley Healthcare System - Nashville (Veterans Health/Flickr)
November 19, 2018
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Around 9 a.m. on Friday, a man took his own life inside of a Tennessee VA Medical Center.

Police have confirmed that the man shot himself inside the lobby of the Nashville Veteran Affair’s Medical Center, located at 1310 24th Avenue South, Fox News reported.

The unidentified man was rushed to the Vanderbilt University Medical Center and was pronounced dead.

The incident remains under investigation. Authorities have not revealed the man’s identity, or whether or not he was a veteran.

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One VA patient, Nathan Jackson, was in the building awaiting his physical therapy appointment when news broke of the incident, according to Fox 17. The doctor’s wife called to tell him there was an active shooter in the building, and instructed him to take cover. The doctor pulled people into his room where they sheltered in place.

“I could have happened to start walking that way and would have been none the wiser,” Jackson said.

It took 15 minutes before an emergency alarm went off in the building.

“He might just be there to take his own life, but you don’t know that. You have to take every precaution that’s out there,” Jackson said.

Hospital employees refused to comment on the incident.

This is not the first time that a Tennessee VA hospital experienced a suicide on their property.

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On Nov. 23, 2016, a 32-year-old Army vet, John Tooms took his own life at the VA Tennessee Valley Healthcare System, Alvin C. York campus, WKRN News reported.

John hung himself at a construction site on the VA Hospital campus.

The hospital said, “This is a heart wrenching tragedy for everyone involved. Management and staff of TVHS offer our sincere condolences, and our thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Toombs’ family and friends.”

John had developed a drug problem and entered the residential treatment program at the Murfreesboro Veterans Affairs center, according to National Public Radio.

The previous day, John was kicked out of the program for showing up late to take his medications.

John’s father, David Tooms, came to the hospital to pick his son up but John refused to go.

“He said, ‘I’m gonna be OK. I’m gonna sleep in the emergency room, go see the patients’ advocate and the director in the morning, and try to get back in the program,” John’s dad said.

Hours before he took his life, he posted a video to his Facebook page and in it he said, “When I asked for help, they opened up a Pandora’s box inside of me and just kicked me out the door, that’s how they treat veterans ’round here.”

John thanked those who did help and said, “Some of you I love more than the whole wide world.”

David Tooms said that hours before his son’s death, he believed he had confronted a VA doctor.

VA said they have no record of that.

“There’s got to be some kind of reform, and this is the time to start. That’s why he made the video – he wanted to say that,” David Toombs said.

John was in the Army National Guard for six years and was deployed to Afghanistan, where he served for one year.

“You can’t expect these guys and ladies to go into the military, go overseas, do what they do and come back and be perfectly fine,” he said.

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