Suicidal veteran and VA employee 'fell through the cracks,' says wife

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MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

A Valley veteran and VA employee took his own life. And now, in an exclusive interview, his widow says she was never told by medical staff at the Phoenix VA about all the warning signs.

After going through Luis Mariscal Munoz's "Progress Notes," his wife Lisa says there is blatant documentation that he repeatedly admitted to being suicidal and even attempted it weeks prior. Mariscal Munoz was only prescribed medication and was never admitted for suicide watch. It's a harsh reality for his wife, who now has raised many questions about his care there.

Just weeks after Lisa's husband committed suicide, she gained access to his records and uncovered detailed accounts of his repeated suicidal admissions. She says she was never made aware. The U.S. Army veteran and VA laboratory technologist was recently diagnosed with PTSD. But his wife of nearly a decade says he never told her about his mental struggle with suicide because he wanted to protect her, but he did seek help from the VA. 

According to his progress notes, a psychiatrist noted his level of suicide attempt "high" and ordered an evaluation in early April. In future appointments with social workers he admitted that "he had a gun" and "researched how to shoot himself properly" because he "didn't want to be a vegetable." He still was never admitted and his wife was never notified.

This, even though Mariscal Munoz signed a "Consent for Treatment" form with confidentiality limitations that include "if the patient may do harm to himself." Lisa says she feels like the Phoenix VA failed her husband. "I feel like them knowing what they knew about his mental status he should have been admitted, I feel like more should have been done to help him," she said. 

His wife even found that just eight days before her husband killed himself, a social worker admitted to being very concerned about his depression. "I don't wish this on anyone," she said.  The VA Public Affairs Office could not comment on the specifics of this case but will likely provide protocol with suicidal veterans on Friday. 

[Special section: VA hospital troubles]

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