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County report aims to reduce San Diego jail suicides

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Posted at 2:36 PM, May 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-04 17:36:25-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - San Diego County jails had the most reported suicides than any other large county jail system in California, according to a San Diego County Grand Jury report filed Thursday. 

According to the Grand Jury's report, 46 people have taken their own life in San Diego County jails in the past 12 years. 

The report claims that San Diego Sheriff’s policies don't detail training procedures required for correctional officers to effectively reduce suicide rates. It went on to say that the department lacks the inclusion of nationally recognized protocols.

The report also said there was no process for continuous oversight of an inmate to prevent suicide.

"In light of these findings, the Grand Jury recommends an update to the policy and procedures manual, the hiring of a full-time professional mental health staff member to supervise all professional mental health workers, and the establishment of a suicide-prevention oversight group," the report stated.

Read the full report here.

Investigators said changes in 2015 regarding new protocols, however, did coincide with a seven-month period with no suicides. The report called for the need of continued effort after that period ended.

The Grand Jury report recalled one inspection at a San Diego County jail, in which investigators were researching prevention methods not already in use.

"Near the end of the inspection, a correctional officer was asked if a suicide had occurred in that facility. The answer was no, then a pause, and then 'No, there have been no suicides in this facility. You are not allowed to die in this facility,'" the report said. "As a result, the Grand Jury looked for a way to instill in the minds of all correctional staff the attitude that suicides are unacceptable."

The report offered three methods to help lower the county's rate:

  • The adoption of clear policy stating the attitude and protocols needed to minimize suicides in jail.
  • Training that includes ongoing instruction for all staff and mental health personnel working with at-risk inmates.
  • Supervisors overseeing training to ensure compliance.

"The Grand Jury believes these recommendations can be implemented quickly at low cost and will reduce suicides," the report said.

The county Grand Jury investigates operations of governmental programs in the county, cities, and special districts.


SUICIDE PREVENTION (24-HOUR HOTLINES)

San Diego County Crisis Line: 1-888-724-7240

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255