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Inmate orientation video aims to prevent jail suicides

Effort follows rash of deaths at Clark County facility

By C1 Staff

CLARK COUNTY, Wash. — Officials at the Clark County Jail in Washington are hoping to prevent jail suicides using a video that explains jail rules.

The video will explain how to identify suicidal and self-harming behaviors in others, according to the Columbian. Following a six-month period that brought four suicides, the sheriff’s office made a pledge to reorganize.

"Being arrested is traumatic," Clark County Sheriff’s Commander Ric Bishop said, "You go into an intake area where your personal items have been taken. Then you go into an area with 20 other people. During that period, giving someone something to read isn't going to be very effective, especially if you are, say, impaired."

The video explaining the jail rules is believed to be more easily digestible and is a critical step in the jail’s attempt to abate suicide. Other changes have been made as well, such as welding shut exposed security bars, replacing all shower heads and protruding fire sprinklers.

"We want to let someone know that this isn't a bad thing, and we’re here to help," Bishop says of inmates telling officials that someone intends to self-harm. "Sure, there are issues of a quote-unquote snitch, but that is about criminal activity. We are talking about reporting someone for their own health. We are talking about the human thing to do."

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