Wife believes husband committed suicide outside former "pill mill" office to send message
MOBILE, Ala. (WPMI) —
Bruce Brockel's wife Donna says in 2004, her husband was in a terrible car accident.
He broke his neck and his lower back. At the time they were living in Dothan where Brockel started seeing a doctor there for the pain.
But in 2010, the couple moved to Mobile. She says her husband got a new doctor, Dr. John Couch at the Physicians Pain Specialists of Alabama. That’s when his addiction began, she says.
Fast forward to Monday of this week. Brockel was found dead outside the former pain clinic's building on Airport Boulevard. His wife says police told her he had a gun with him and police have ruled it a suicide.
But Brockel's wife says the location where he chose to take his own life wasn't a coincidence.
She tells Local 15 that Brockel had become addicted to opioids under the care of Dr. John Couch.
When the feds raided Couch and his partner Dr. Xiulu Ruan's 'pill mill' clinic in 2015, Donna Brockel says her husband began getting his pills from a new doctor across the bay, Dr. Russan Tarabein. Brockel's wife says there her husband's problems with addiction continued.
According to federal records, the day police responded to Brockel's suicide, August 7, is the same day Dr. Tarabein filed an intent to plead guilty to health care fraud and unlawful distribution of controlled substances in federal court.
The feds actually charged him with 20 other counts involving an operation prosecutors called a 'money mill'.
Dr. Ruan and Dr. Couch were found guilty of their crimes back in February.
Ruan was sentenced to 21 years, while Couch, Brockel's former doctor, was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
"I'm heartbroken by this news. The ripple effect this has sent through our community is just devastating," said Executive Director of the Drug Education Council, Virginia Guy.
Brockel's wife hopes this story one day sparks changes in legislation and tougher restrictions on doctors prescribing opioids for chronic pain.
She believes her husband took his own life in the parking lot of the Physicians Pain Specialists to send a strong message and bring attention to the opioid epidemic in our country. Brockel was just 48 years old.
If you or a loved one struggle with addiction, you can call the Drug Education Council at (251) 478-7855 to get the help you need.