April 24, 2018
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Inmate taken to hospital after suicide attempt

By Dawn Gagnon, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — A Penobscot County Jail inmate was taken to a Bangor hospital Friday evening for injuries he suffered during a suicide attempt.

The inmate, whose name was not released, had been brought to the jail after he was arrested earlier in the day, Penobscot County Sheriff Glenn Ross said Friday night. Ross said the man was intoxicated when he arrived.

The suicide attempt occurred about 7 p.m., when the man attempted to hang himself with his clothing. He was in a holding area for observation at the time, Ross said.

A detective with the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Department and a jail nurse administered first aid before the man was taken to the hospital for treatment of his injuries, which Ross said were not considered life-threatening.

On Friday, Ross said that in recent years jail staffers have taken several steps to prevent suicide attempts, including:

— Improved intake procedures in an effort to better identify inmates who may have risk factors for suicide.

— Crisis intervention training for guards and other staff, who also have been training to watch for mood or personality changes.

— Protocols requiring frequent inmate checks, suicide watches for those with risk factors, extreme suicide watch for inmates with elevated risk factors.

— The development of a coalition of mental health providers, increased mental health services and the establishment of a board to review policy issues.

— The purchase of clothing and blankets made from material that can’t be used to form a noose.

In addition, he said, the jail has equipped personnel with cut-down tools and purchased defibrillators for use in medical emergencies.

Within the past month, oxygen has been placed on each of the jail’s decks rather than in one central area, Ross said. Some of that oxygen was administered after Friday’s attempted hanging.

Ross said Friday that the inmate was among more than 50 who have made a serious attempt at suicide at the jail since 2002.

During that seven-year period, four of those inmates died, according to reports previously published in the Bangor Daily News. The most recent death occurred in September 2007.

“The last year has been much better,” Ross said. “We still have [suicide attempts] but not as many. Things are much, much improved.”

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