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Medical Examiner releases report on veteran's suicide inside VA

Report: Staff were to check on him every 15 minutes.
Posted at 5:35 PM, Mar 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-09 18:01:58-04

According to a Palm Beach County Medical Examiner's report, Sergeant Brieux Dash was to be checked in his room by staff at the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center, every 15 minutes.

Dash had been Baker Acted in to the VA Medical Center on March 11th, for suicidal thoughts. The Baker Act is a state law which lets police, judges and doctors order people who appear to be mentally ill and pose a danger to themselves or others for an involuntary psychiatric exam.

A proud soldier of 10 years, he was deployed to Iraq twice, for 18 months each time.

His family told Contact 5, when he came back, he was diagnosed with PTSD.

Three days after Dash was checked in, staff said they noticed the sergeant was "irritable and agitated after being told that he would not be discharged on that date." VA staff say he refused to go to dinner, and "was last known to be alive at 5:45 p.m." When they checked the room 15 minutes later, staff said they found Dash unresponsive.

The 33-year-old had hanged himself. According to the autopsy, there was a suicide note left by Dash. A family member tells Contact 5 Dash's wife was not told of any note, and that the VA has not been communicating with them.

Family members describe Dash as a loving father of three, and amazing father. His aunt says Dash's 16-year-old daughter, 13-year-old and 4-year-old sons were his "life," and he was a dedicated husband of 13 years. Dash's wife Emma worked at the VA Medical Center as a pharmacy tech.

"I believe Emma probably thought he would safer there because they understand PTSD. They should understand PTSD," says Sherron Permashwar, Dash's aunt, in an interview last week.

The Veterans Administration has not answered Contact 5's questions about Dash's supervision while in their care. In a previous statement, a spokesperson said they are "reviewing their processes and have changed certain patient monitoring protocols." They declined to say what exactly changed.

The family says they thought their loved one was getting better before his surprising death. As a psychiatric patient, his aunt believed he was under constant watch.

"In just my common sense little head, I am thinking that's what you are there for, monitored full time," says Permashwar.

The ME report says Dash was being held in the psychiatric ward of the VA Medical Center.

Brieux had just graduated from Palm Beach State College and was looking for a job in IT. A Go Fund Me page has been set up for his family.

Local and federal officials are investigating, according to a VA spokesperson.

If you know a veteran or anyone who is suffering and is thinking about suicide, let them know - there is help.

They can call the number 1-800-273-8255 and press one.

RELATED: Where to turn if you have thoughts of suicide