Summary:

Paragraph 5 reads: "After cutting herself and attempting to overdose on aspirin, the 16-year-old successfully hanged herself in her foster home two years ago. Debra Langdon argues state social workers and doctors did not take the girl's earlier attempts seriously enough and prescribed an anti-depressant, making the girl even more despondent. Langdon's suicide followed the self-inflicted deaths of three other Southern Utah teens. Some studies have found that anti-depressants can make teens suicidal."

http://www.sltrib.com/ci_4334760

Grieving mother stymied by state
By Rebecca Walsh
The Salt Lake Tribune


A grief-stricken mother is fighting the state for records of her daughter's suicide while in foster care.
    Debra Langdon intends to sue the Department of Human Services for alleged medical negligence. In preparation for that lawsuit, Langdon and her attorney have requested copies of a state review of Katherine Langdon's suicide.
    But Human Services officials and state attorneys have balked at providing the document, arguing the "Fatality Review Report" is confidential under Utah's Government Records Access and Management Act, and Langdon does not have the legal right to get a copy.
    The State Records Committee will review Langdon's appeal at a hearing today.
    Katherine Langdon was taken into state custody in March 2004 when her mother appealed to the state for help, according to her attorney.
   After cutting herself and attempting to overdose on aspirin, the 16-year-old successfully hanged herself in her foster home two years ago. Debra Langdon argues state social workers and doctors did not take the girl's earlier attempts seriously enough and prescribed an anti-depressant, making the girl even more despondent. Langdon's suicide followed the self-inflicted deaths of three other Southern Utah teens. Some studies have found that anti-depressants can make teens suicidal.
    "She had lost all hope," attorney Wayne Searle said. "She was a good kid. All she was, was a teenage girl."
    Langdon's battle with the state began when her daughter was handcuffed and led away from school more than two years ago. But when Langdon fought to get her daughter out of state custody, Searle says, she was stymied. Five months later, Katherine Langdon was dead.
    A year ago, Searle notified the state that he intended to sue. And the attorney and Langdon have requested - and received - other records collected during Katherine Langdon's months in foster care, including two negative drug urine tests. But state records managers refused to release an internal review of the girl's death.
    "You have indicated that you are Katherine's mother," Assistant Attorney General Debra.
Kurzban wrote in a letter to Langdon dated June 22. "That status does not entitle you to receive these documents.
    "In addition, I have no information that demonstrates to me that your interest in receiving these documents should override the clear intention of the statute."
    In arguments submitted to the records committee, Kurzban notes the reviews are classified as "protected." Therefore, state law allows only those who submit the record or have power of attorney or a signed release to get a copy. Instead, Kurzban suggests that Langdon and her attorney could request an annual compilation of the reports with names and identifying information blacked out - an option she did not offer when rejecting Langdon's records request.
    DHS Spokeswoman Carol Sisco said she keeps a redacted copy of the annual report in her office. She allowed the report to be copied by two reporters for the Deseret Morning News for a story about suicide. Sisco said department managers scrutinize the report, looking for patterns or better responses. Her copy of the report is shredded at the end of each year.
    "If the Deseret News can get that information, why can't the mother get it?" Searle asked. "I can't get anything from these people."
    Searle says he would prefer an unedited copy of Katherine Langdon's fatality review report. He believes the records battle is part of state attorneys' larger strategy to block Langdon's suit by allowing the two-year statute of limitations on medical negligence to expire later this month.
   walsh@sltrib.com