Suicide Attempts Commonly Seen in Sangamon County Jail

Suicide Attempts Commonly Seen in Sangamon County Jail (WICS)

Well-renown Patriot’s player Aaron Hernandez’s death is the most recent, “high-profile" prison suicide the nation has seen, but Hernandez is not alone.

Assistant Superintendent of Jail, Terry Durr, said many common jail items like “sheets, towels, blankets” and even “clothing” are all pieces of what’s available to inmates that could be used in the leading cause of death behind bars.... suicide.

Sangamon County Jail is no exception

"Despair,” he said. “That they're never going to get out of custody. I can't tell you what they might be thinking why somebody would come up and decide that this permanent solution to a temporary problem would be the something they need to do."

Durr said with about 330 to 350 inmates in their jail at any given time, there's at least one suicide attempt every month.

But only two have resulted in death in the last 25 years.

Most recently last month, a woman, Tiffany rusher, 27 years old, was found unresponsive behind bars from an apparent suicide.

“We constantly work on,” Durr said. “The jails constantly work, on trying to prevent suicides, because that's the number one risk factor for a lot of people coming to jail, especially people who aren't used to it, that are embarrassed in society for what they got arrested for."

Durr said suicides happen most often around trials and big life events.

The most common method is strangulation.

Right behind that -- overdose, by drugs or drinking bleach or cleaning fluids, self-inflicted wounds, and foreign object consumption.

The county jail offers mental health support and daily counseling.

They even give special uniforms, blankets, mats to those "at risk" to prevent hangings that will not be able to roll into something that will be applicable for nooses.

Duur said inmates have just time on their hands to think of creative ways to attempt suicide.

He said, more than anything, not to face the problem alone.

“Seek help,” he advised. “There's a permanent solution to a temporary problem."

In the last two years, the county jail has trained its staff more extensively to look out for those who may be at risk. They say they plan to continue this training as the year’s progress.

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