A 53-year-old veteran drove to the Phoenix VA regional office on Sunday, parked his car and then committed suicide in the parking lot.
According to FOX 10 Phoenix, Thomas Murphy drove to the VA with the intent of ending his life and may have been making an attempt to make a statement against the multitude of cases where suicidal veterans are falling through the system’s cracks.
“I don’t think there is anything more symbolic than to complete suicide on VA grounds,” said Brandon Coleman, who is currently on leave from his job working with at-risk vets.
Coleman had come forward earlier in the year to blow the whistle on the failures of the Phoenix VA, including the lack of adequate care for veterans on the verge of committing suicide. Afterwards, he was asked to go on leave.
Police have stated that Murphy left a goodbye note, which expressed the feelings behind his actions.
Murphy used a gun to take his own life. A nearby witness saw him pull into the parking lot and heard a gunshot shortly after.
The VA has been highly criticized over the past year for the way it is handling patients and their healthcare system. Currently, the organization is having a hard time hiring social workers and mental health professionals. Because of this and other shortfalls, veterans continued to slip through the cracks.
FOX 10 Phoenix reported that Coleman did not know Murphy but believed that the veteran may have been upset about a claim, an appeal, or medical care he got at the Phoenix VA facility. “I think he would want to speak with us about this, I think it was the ultimate show of disregard and just frustration with a broken systems,” he said.
It has been stated that Murphy was alone when he committed suicide. His death is currently under investigation.
Coleman said, “It is an ultimate slap in the face to the VA, that something is wrong, to take the extra step to want to finish the act of suicide on VA property so that way they have to clean up the mess.”