Can a case of a person who committed suicide about a year after his dismissal be recognized as a work accident for the purpose of receiving a dependents' benefit from the National Insurance Institute?
This issue arose from a lawsuit filed by the widow of a media company employee who demanded recognition of her husband's suicide case - an incident that occurred 11 years ago. The deceased, in his 50s, first attempted suicide about 10 months after his dismissal - a failed attempt.
On the second attempt he managed to end his life.
The Social Security position was that suicide due to dismissal may be recognized if it occurs in the vicinity of dismissal, and not about a year after it.
However, the Tel Aviv Regional Labor Court accepted the employee's widow's claim, even though he committed suicide a year and a day after he was fired.
The court appointed an expert on his behalf, who determined that the deceased had suffered from recurrent depressive disorder.
According to the expert, "there is a causal connection between the 'stress' event, ie his dismissal from his job, and the appearance of the severe depressive episode, which, combined with the personality characteristics of the deceased, led to his decision to end his life."
The expert added that the effect of the unusual event, i.e. his dismissal, is more significant than the effect of other risk factors in the deceased.
Therefore, the false thoughts documented in the deceased's file, whether of lack of money to buy food for his home, or of his inability to support his children, were accompanied by psychomotor restlessness, which caused him to attempt suicide for the first time 10 months after his dismissal.
According to the expert, the dismissals caused a feeling of self-worthlessness and the guilt that all revolved around the loss of his job and the source of his work.
The deep insult that the deceased felt following his dismissal was a significant source of stress, and if he had not been fired - it is likely that the severe depression from which he suffered would not have appeared.
She said, "The time that elapsed between the dismissal of the deceased and the suicide attempt is a syndrome typical of the desperate attempts of many patients to rehabilitate and return to occupational function. Fantasizing about his death as a refuge. "
She added: "The mental processing of the dismissals experienced by the deceased was problematic and rigid, in terms of success equals life, and failure equals death."
The expert examined the clinical history of the deceased, which included treatment with psychiatric medication for 18 years before his suicide, but as stated, she was under the impression that the dismissals were the ones that brought him to an end to his life.
Adv. Bar Eliezer,
The widow's attorney, Adv. Bar Eliezer, stated in her summaries that according to Jewish law, the court must accept the medical expert's opinion from the expert's very objectivity and confirm his widow's entitlement to a dependents' pension.
The National Insurance Institute sought to dismiss the claim on the grounds that there was a mismatch between the opinion of the expert appointed by the tribunal and the accepted school in relation to the accepted model that suicide would be recognized as a work accident only when the suicide occurred in immediate and shortest time.
This is while in the case of the deceased, as stated, about a year has passed from the date of dismissal until the date when he ended his life.
Judge Dagit Weissman noted that she did not find that the expert's detailed conclusion in the opinion and her answers to the clarification questions were in conflict with the accepted school.
In doing so, it accepted the widow's position of power and rejected the Social Security claims.
The judge ruled that the employee's suicide should be recognized as a work accident related to his dismissal, and therefore his widow would receive a fixed "dependents" pension from the National Insurance Institute.
In addition, it ruled that the National Insurance Institute must pay the widow a total of NIS 5,000 in fees and legal expenses.
The National Insurance Institute said in response: "We sympathize with the family's pain, but in the first place, we relied on the law and the decisions of the High Court, because after so long it is not possible to establish a direct connection between the resignation and the painful case."