HURRICANE – The Washington County Purgatory Correctional Facility in Hurricane was locked down for a time Wednesday evening after an unsuccessful suicide attempt was made by an inmate at the jail followed by a successful suicide attempt made by another inmate approximately one hour later.
The first suicide attempt was made by a 24-year-old man who tried to hang himself, Washington County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Jake Schultz said. Deputies found the man at approximately 4 p.m. and were able to get him down before his suicide attempt was successful.
“He was just about unconscious when they found him,” Schultz said, “but they were able to get him down, and … he was OK. He was treated by medical here on scene.”
The other inmate, a 21-year-old man, was discovered at about 5:15 p.m. after he hanged himself in his cell, Schultz said. He was pronounced dead approximately 45 minutes later. He has been identified as Tyler William Beshell, of Virgin.
Schultz said the two men were co-defendants on new felony charges after they were caught with drugs early Tuesday morning within the correctional facility.
“Both of them were caught with heroin in the facility,” he said, “and that’s the reason they were in the lockdown block in the first place.”
Following the suicide incidents, the jail was placed on full lockdown, which is standard protocol when incidents like these happen, Schultz said. The facility remained on restricted movement for a time following the lockdown.
“Everyone goes to their cells,” he said, “and the ones in open dorms go to their bunkers and stay on their bunks.”
During a January interview with St. George News, Schultz said successful suicides at the facility are very rare.
“I think in the 10-plus years that I’ve been in this Sheriff’s Office, I think successful suicides – we may have had maybe six,” he said, adding that the majority of attempted suicides are made by inmates hanging or cutting themselves.
If someone is committed to doing it, it’s just like with contraband. If they’re committed – if they’re motivated to making it happen – you know, there’s only so much that we can do. Just like anywhere else, even if you’re not in jail, if you have a loved one who is committed to doing that, you can’t watch them all the time. And if they’re really committed, they’re not going to give you anything to watch. The ones that are a cry for help or attention, or they’re not fully committed to the act yet, they’re a lot easier to identify and stop it from happening. But when they’re really motivated and committed to doing it, it’s difficult.
Headcounts at the facility are performed on inmates every 15 minutes to an hour, depending on the particular area where the inmates are being held, Schultz said. After a headcount, inmates know there’s about a 25- to 35-minute window of opportunity during which they will probably not be checked by staff again.
“We’ve got a great medical staff,” Schultz said. “Our security staff jump right in as soon as they find out that there’s an incident. They’ll jump right in with medical care, too – they’re trained to do it, as well.”
Schultz said there have been a few cases when the facility staff found an inmate who didn’t have a pulse and wasn’t breathing after a suicide attempt, but the facility staff were able to bring them back.
This report is based on preliminary information provided by law enforcement or other emergency responders and may not contain the full scope of findings.
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