Editor’s note: In the aftermath of the Jan. 18 apparent suicide of Baker & Hostetler partner John Mason Mings, Texas Lawyer asked Ann D. Foster, director of the State Bar of Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program, to discuss suicide warning signs. Mings, an intellectual property litigator, died of a single gunshot wound to the head. According to a report from the Galveston Police Department, on the afternoon of Jan. 18 witnesses on a beach in Galveston saw Mings sitting alone by the water’s edge. After they heard a gunshot, they saw Mings “laying in the water and no one else was nearby.” Before joining Baker & Hostetler in 2008, Mings had been a partner in Fulbright & Jaworski in Houston. Lisa Pennington, managing partner of the Houston office of Baker & Hostetler, says everyone at the office was shocked to learn of Mings’ death. “It’s been pretty devastating for everybody here. He’s such a brilliant lawyer and a good friend,” she says. “We just didn’t see it coming.” The firm has set up an educational fund for Mings’ children, The John Mings Memorial Fund, and contributions can be made to Baker & Hostetler’s Houston office, she says. Since Mings’ death, Pennington says she has told the lawyers in the office to seek counseling if they feel they need some help. “If there’s any issues, like depression, they can feel easy about coming to me, and I want them to get treatment,” she says.

I get a particular type of call too often. Over time, I’ve learned how to recognize a certain tension, a hesitation in the voices. I know a lawyer has died by suicide. Recently, I got a call about a lawyer in Houston.

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