Retreat investigates suicide of 13-year-old


BRATTLEBORO -- A 13-year-old girl, who was a patient at The Brattleboro Retreat's Adolescent Residential Program, committed suicide Friday night.

Konstantin von Krusenstiern, Retreat Vice President of Strategy and Development, said the girl was in a residential home on Linden Street and was discovered in her room when a counselor went to tell her dinner was ready.

"It is with great sadness that we report the tragic death of a 13-year-old female who took her life Friday evening," von Krusenstiern wrote in a press release Saturday. "The family was notified immediately and the Retreat is now working with the appropriate authorities and agencies to thoroughly investigate the circumstances of this incident."

The girl had been living in a residential group home, which receives a lower level of care than the more acute units at the psychiatric hospital.

She had been living at the Retreat since November.

She was not a patient in the state hospital unit, which does include teenagers.

Patients in the acute care unit receive a much higher level of care and oversight.

The Brattleboro Police Department investigated the untimely death Friday, and von Krusenstiern said the Department of Child and Families, as well as key lawmakers and state officials, have also been contacted and are working with the Retreat to investigate the incident.

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"As we proceed with the investigation our prayers and thoughts go out to this young person's family and loved ones," von Krusenstiern said. "Our focus now is working with the staff to investigate the circumstances and make sure we fix what ever it was that allowed this to happen."

In January 2012 a Retreat patient died of a drug overdose and then in September 2013 a woman enrolled in an outpatient program died on the Retreat grounds in a residence hall.

The January 2012 death led to a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services investigation.

The hospital faced further scrutiny from CMS following a series of violations including forced restraint and medication and inadequate documentation.

After a lengthy investigation in November CMS announced that the hospital had met federal standards and would be able to continue to receive federal funding.

Retreat Director of External Affairs, Peter Albert, said it is unclear how the suicide might affect the hospital's CMS status moving forward.

"We do not know if CMS has oversight here or not, but we will inform them. We will be as open as we possibly can be about this," said Albert. "We will continue to train and educate our staff and we plan to bring in outside experts to make sure we are not missing anything. The primary focus of the Retreat right now is to try to understand what happened, to keep others safe and to share our prayers with the family."

Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at; or 802-254-2311, ext. 279. You can follow Howard on Twitter @HowardReformer.


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