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SD County jails have highest suicide rate in state, grand jury finds

SAN DIEGO — The suicide rate in San Diego County jails is the highest of California’s largest jail systems, according to a report released Thursday by the San Diego County grand jury.

According to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, 46 people have committed suicide in its jails over the past 12 years.

The grand jury, responding to public concern, investigated why the number of suicides in San Diego County jails is so high and found that:

  • The sheriff’s Policy and Procedures Manual lacks detailed training procedures required for correctional officers to effectively reduce suicides;
  • The Policy and Procedures Manual does not clearly show the inclusion of nationally recognized protocols or a clear policy statement for suicide prevention;
  • The sheriff’s department chief medical officer does not employ an in-house staff supervisor for contract mental health workers and instead relies on contracted supervision; and,
  • There is no process in place that calls for continuous oversight as part of a suicide-prevention policy.

In light of its findings, the grand jury recommended 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.