State sued over death of former coach at State Hospital

Michael Lykins

Michael Lykins

The family of a former high school football coach who committed suicide while a patient at Larned State Hospital, has filed a lawsuit accusing hospital officials of not doing enough to prevent his death.

Michael Lykins, a former Kansas State University football player who coached football at Skyline High School near Pratt, hanged himself shortly after being admitted to the hospital on Sept. 6, 2011. He was 43.

Dan, Lindsey, and Chase Lykins filed the lawsuit in Shawnee County District Court on Aug. 23.

Chase and Lindsey Lykins are the 20-year-old son and 21-year-old daughter of Michael Lykins. Dan Lykins is Michael Lykins’ father and administrator of his estate. He is also an attorney and a former member of the Kansas Board of Regents.

Admissions to the state hospital are limited to patients who are seriously mentally ill and thought to be a danger to themselves or others. Most of the admissions are court-ordered.

In the lawsuit, the Lykins family asks for “fair and reasonable compensatory damages.” A specific amount is not mentioned in the court documents.

The family has accused several hospital officials of allowing Michael Lykins to be discharged despite reports that he was mentally unstable and “likely to cause harm to self or others…”

His release, they allege, also violated a civil commitment order, filed in Pratt County District Court, directing the hospital not to discharge Michael Lykins until his release had been approved by the court.

Hospital records, the Lykinses allege, show that Michael Lykins was discharged Sept. 1, 2011, five days ahead of his next scheduled court appearance without the court’s approval.

He was returned to the hospital on Sept. 6 because his condition worsened. He was left unattended in his hospital room where he hanged himself.

Angela de Rocha, a spokesperson for the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services, called Michael Lykins’ death a “sad event.”

In an email to KHI News Service, she asked that it be made “very clear” that Michael Lykins’ death occurred before KDADS assumed responsibility for administering the state’s five hospitals for the mentally ill and developmentally disabled.

Prior to July 1, 2012, the hospitals were administered by the now-defunct Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services.

Attorneys for KDADS and for the Lykinses are scheduled to be in Shawnee County District Court on Thursday for a hearing on whether the case should be tried in Pawnee County. State officials have asked for the case to be moved there.–By Dave Ranney
KHI News Service