Davis County jail reports 2nd inmate suicide this week

The first inmate died Sunday. The second died Wednesday, according to officials.

Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) The Davis County Justice Center, and Jail, on Monday, January 3, 2022. Two inmates at the jail died by suicide this week, officials said.

An inmate at the Davis County jail died by suicide Wednesday night, officials reported Thursday. He’s the second man in the jail’s care to die by suicide this week.

Officials declined to identify the inmate who died Wednesday, only saying he was in his 40s. Jail staff found the man unresponsive in his cell just before midnight, according to a news release. He was taken to a hospital, where he died. It’s unclear how long he’d been in custody or why he was booked.

Jail spokesperson Stephanie Dinsmore said staff are required to check on inmates in their cells every 30-60 minutes and that staff followed that policy Wednesday.

The man who died Wednesday was living in a different housing unit from the man who died by suicide Sunday, Dinsmore said. That man, who was also in his 40s, died after jumping from a balcony.

Dinsmore on Thursday declined to release the name of the man who died Sunday, and it remains unclear how long he had been in jail before his death or why he was arrested.

“It’s difficult to convey the sadness and deep concern we have felt at the Jail this past week,” Chief Deputy Arnold Butcher said in a statement. “Staff and inmates grieve the death of any inmate in our custody that results from suicide. We take our charge of caring for those in our care and custody as our number one priority.”

Dinsmore said those in custody can seek help for mental health issues from the jail’s two license clinical social workers by using their tablets, just like they would request any other medical appointment.

Inmates also are evaluated for mental health concerns and suicidal ideation when booked into jail. Those who express suicidal ideation meet with a social worker that day, then have a follow-up appointment within 48 hours, she said. Davis Behavioral Health also offers resources to inmates. A peer support team is available for jail staff.

Both internal and external investigators will probe these deaths. The Life Safety Committee, an advisory board of staff and civilians, also will review the cases.

This death marks the third inmate death at a Utah jail this week. A man was found “alone and unresponsive” in his cell at the Millard County jail Tuesday. He was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Officials also did not release his name.

At least seven inmates have died in Utah jails this year. In 2020, the most recent year for which the state has provided data, more people died in Utah jails than in any year since 2016, despite lower facility populations attributed to COVID-19 mitigation efforts.

Most of those deaths were suicides — the most prevalent cause of death for Utah inmates since at least 2013, as far back as a state report has tracked data.

Editor’s note • If you or people you know are at risk of self-harm, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24-hour support at 1-800-273-8255.