Ct. Man Charged With Enabling Wife’s Suicide

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A Norwalk, Ct., man has been arrested for not keeping guns away from his wife before she committed suicide. Steven Bartush, 36, was charged second-degree manslaughter. His wife, Joan, shot herself on Oct. 6, 2001, two days after she was released from a hospital, using a handgun her husband had put in an unlocked bedroom dresser drawer, the New York Times says.

Hospital personnel reportedly had told Bartush to remove or lock up his guns after his wife had attempted suicide a month earlier, police said.

This would be Connecticut’s first prosecution involving an adult’s suicide, experts said.

Steven B. Duke, a professor of criminal law at Yale University School of Law, told the Times: “It’s extremely rare to say to someone, `You killed the person by allowing your gun to remain the house,’ or, `You allowed her to be unhappy.’ You almost never hear that.”

Harold I. Schwartz, the chief psychiatrist at the Institute of Living in Hartford, said, “It’s setting a potentially dangerous precedent, expecting individuals and families to control the behavior of adult members,” he said. “It’s very distorting of the family process.”

Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2003/10/10/nyregion/10SUIC.html

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