Archive for August, 2014

Justice System Neglecting Prisoners with Suicidal Tendencies

When a person is incarcerated, he or she is still entitled to receive necessary medical care for health conditions. This includes not just physical symptoms but also mental problems that may be causing someone to have thoughts of suicide or to consider dying by suicide. Unfortunately, a recent article on AOL.com suggested that safeguards designed to prevent inmates from harming themselves are not being followed.

Anyone considering dying by suicide deserves to get help and have a chance to recover, even if that person is in jail or prison. This “prisoner,” by the way, may be a teen locked up in jail for a DWI; a teen who is ashamed for the arrest and thinking he or she has ruined their life.  Of course they haven’t but they think so.

Those responsible for providing help can be held accountable if they negligently fail. An experienced suicide attorney can represent victims or family members who suffer as a result of a failure of healthcare providers or other professionals.

Inmates at Risk of Death by Suicide

According to AOL.com, an inmate in New York city who was experiencing mental illness died by suicide. He had attempted to die by suicide three times within a three day period of time before his ultimate death. As a result, he was put on 24-hour watch in an attempt to protect him. This was ignored. Also ignored was a screening form in which he had indicated that he was “thinking about killing himself.”

This is not an isolated incident. Another inmate also died by suicide in a solitary confinement cell after telling the guards that he was suicidal. When he said this to one of the guards shortly before his death, the reply was to “go ahead and do it,” if you have the courage to do so. A third story involved another inmate dying by suicide using a metal bed that he stood on its end to create a scaffold. The beds were supposed to be welded to the floor to prevent this, since another inmate had previously done the same thing.

AOL reported that records show at least 11 suicides in New York City jails in the past five years. In at least nine of the incidents, there was a failure to follow safeguards designed to prevent inmates from death by suicide.

Problems include:

  • Communications breakdowns between guards and mental health staff, which can sometimes result in inmates not getting necessary medications or precautions not being taken to protect those considering death by suicide.
  • Improper distribution of medication.
  • Inadequate mental health treatment.

There is no excuse for these types of problems, but they happen all the time. As a result, after cancer and heart disease, suicide is the third leading cause of death in jails nationwide. Throughout the country, there are 41 deaths by suicide among inmates for every 100,000 people incarcerated.

It is often possible to prevent death by suicide and a failure to take reasonable precautions to protect inmates can be considered negligent. When someone’s negligence directly contributes to a death by suicide, it is important to hold that individual or company accountable in order to change behavior going forward in the future and provide broader protections to those who need them.

A suicide attorney at the Law Offices of Skip Simpson can help. Call (214) 618-8222 to schedule a free case consultation.