Skip to main content

LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 | Vaccines | Racial Justice

Grand Jury Criticizes San Diego Jail Suicide-Prevention Efforts

The door of the San Diego County Sheriff's Department in Kearny Mesa, Dec. 31...

Photo by Tarryn Mento

Above: The door of the San Diego County Sheriff's Department in Kearny Mesa, Dec. 31, 2014.

Grand Jury Criticizes San Diego Jail Suicide Prevention Efforts


Kelly Davis, journalist


San Diego County jails lack a clear policy statement on suicide prevention, despite having the highest suicide rate among large California counties, the San Diego County grand jury said in a report released Thursday.

The grand jury's report, the first to focus on jail suicides since at least 2011, found a San Diego County Sheriff's Department policy manual was recently updated with procedures for new safety cells for inmates believed to be at risk for suicide. But there wasn't any detailed training for correctional officers on how to effectively reduce suicides or a larger written policy statement from the Sheriff's Department. The grand jury concluded that a top-level suicide prevention plan is needed to focus jail staff on potential warnings for suicide.

There have not been any suicides in San Diego jails so far this year.

During an inspection at a jail facility, the grand jury asked a correctional officer if there had been any recent suicides in that jail.

"The answer was no, then a pause, and then 'No, there have been no suicides in this facility. You are not allowed to die in this facility,'" the report said. "This was the only time the Grand Jury heard a correctional officer with the attitude that suicides are not acceptable in jail."

The Sheriff's Department said it would formally respond to the report within 90 days.

"The Sheriff's Department, along with the Grand Jury, believes that one suicide in a detention facility is too many," spokesman Ryan Keim said. "The Department has worked tirelessly to improve our ability to identify individuals susceptible to suicide and provide them the necessary mental health services. The Department has also partnered with the County of San Diego to improve mental health resources outside of jail that will hopefully prevent many individuals with mental health issues from re-entering a detention facility once they are released."

Reporter Kelly Davis, who has covered San Diego's jail suicide rate, joined KPBS Midday Edition on Monday with more on the importance of the grand jury's report.


San Diego News Now podcast branding

San Diego news; when you want it, where you want it. Get local stories on politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings. Hosted by Anica Colbert and produced by KPBS, San Diego and the Imperial County's NPR and PBS station.

  • Need help keeping up with the news that matters most? Get the day's top news — ranging from local to international — straight to your inbox each weekday morning.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Midday Edition banner

KPBS Midday Edition is a daily radio news magazine keeping San Diego in the know on everything from politics to the arts.

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or sign up for our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.