WASHINGTON ― It’s a well-known story: An inmate takes his or her life inside a jail or jail, and household and family members are left questioning how the incident probably might have occurred. This time, the general public curiosity is even increased ― some of the well-known prisoners in America, former NFL star Aaron Hernandez, was found dead in his cell on Wednesday morning, in accordance with the Massachusetts Department of Correction.

Hernandez, 27, was serving a life sentence for the 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd, a semi-professional soccer participant who was relationship the sister of Hernandez’s fiancee. That sentence was handed down in 2015, however final Friday, he was discovered not responsible of a separate 2012 double homicide. 

Boston Globe by way of Getty Pictures

Former New England Patriots tight finish Aaron Hernandez sits on the protection desk throughout his double homicide trial in Boston on March 2.

(Be aware: This text discusses a number of the particulars of the means by which Hernandez killed himself.)

It’s a false impression that there’s nothing prisons and jails can do about suicides in custody. Though “not all inmate suicides are preventable, lots of them are,” stated Lindsay Hayes, a nationwide professional on this problem who beforehand consulted with the Massachusetts Division of Correction. Hayes additionally famous that he was “assured” that the company and its well being care supplier will conduct complete investigations into Hernandez’s demise, and that “ought to embrace a clear willpower as as to whether or not his demise was preventable.”

Because the circumstances unfold, there are a selection of things that will assist reply that query: Have been there any warning indicators, and if that’s the case, ought to Hernandez have been placed on suicide watch? Did he obtain acceptable psychological well being screening and remedy, if warranted? How usually was he purported to be checked on, and when was his final contact with a correctional officer? Was his jail cell designed with suicide prevention in thoughts, or retrofitted to cut back ligature factors an inmate might use to hold himself?

Within the wake of Hernandez’s demise, his household is seeking a probe. His former agent said he didn’t imagine that Hernandez would kill himself. (It’s not unusual for family and friends members to be skeptical beloved one would ever take his or her personal life.)

There have been 47 suicides in Massachusetts prisons between 2001 and 2014, in accordance with federal information. From 2001-2014, the suicide mortality price in Massachusetts state prisons was 32 per 100,000 inmates, double the nationwide common of 16 per 100,000 over that timeframe. There have been six suicides in 2014, however only one suicide in 2015 and two in 2016, according to Massachusetts Division of Correction information.

The suicide price in jails is way increased than it’s in jail. In state prisons all through the nation, that price was 20 deaths per 100,000 inmates in 2014, in comparison with 50 deaths per 100,000 inmates in native jails, in accordance with Bureau of Justice statistics.

Nonetheless, jail suicides look like on the rise in recent times. The proportion of suicides in state prisons in 2014 was the best recorded since 2001, and represented a 30 p.c bounce from 2013 to 2014 ― from 192 deaths in 2013 to 249 deaths in 2014. The suicide demise price in 2014 ― 20 suicides per 100,000 inmates ― was the best price recorded since 2001.

A part of the discrepancy between prisons and jails is because of the nature of the confinement. Not like prisons, jails maintain inmates for less than quick intervals of time, and they’re coping with individuals who might not be used to the shock of confinement, might be withdrawing from medication or alcohol, and have unknown psychological well being histories. (A Huffington Post investigation discovered that just about a 3rd of jail deaths over a year-long interval occurred within the first 72 hours after reserving.)

Hernandez wasn’t new to confinement: He was already serving a sentence of life with out parole. However his obvious suicide occurred lower than every week after he was acquitted on separate fees stemming from the homicide of two different individuals. Through the trial, he had contact together with his household — together with his 4-year-old daughter — in a distinct capability than he would have as soon as again in jail. That sort of occasion is a set off “that would improve his danger of harming himself,” says Eric Balaban, a senior employees counsel with the Nationwide Jail Challenge on the American Civil Liberties Union. That raises the query of whether or not Hernandez’s psychological well being standing was evaluated throughout or after the trial.

A jail spokesman advised the Boston Globe that Hernandez had not been on a suicide watch and didn’t recommend that he deliberate to hurt himself, though it’s not clear on what analysis that was primarily based. (A Massachusetts Division of Correction spokesperson didn’t instantly reply to HuffPost’s record of questions on Hernandez’s demise.)

The Souza-Baranowski Correctional Heart, the place Hernandez was held, is a 500,000 sq. foot maximum-security facility that opened in 1998 at a price of greater than $100 million. It has greater than 1,000 cells and 366 cameras. Earlier this 12 months, it was the location of a jail riot the place inmates had been “getting ready for war,” within the phrases of 1 official.

Leslie Walker, the chief director of Prisoners’ Authorized Companies of Massachusetts, advised the New York Times on Wednesday that she thought-about the jail “troubled” and famous they had been “very involved” about it.

The group sued the state on behalf of inmates in December for allegedly unlawfully segregating mentally in poor health inmates in solitary confinement, which might exacerbate psychological well being points and make inmates extra more likely to commit new crimes once they’re launched. The swimsuit alleged that Division of Correction officers had been downgrading the diagnoses of mentally in poor health inmates, making them eligible to position in segregation.

The bodily plan of a jail, in addition to whether or not inmates have direct supervision from employees, may also be key elements in stopping suicides. We don’t but understand how usually Hernandez was purported to be checked on by employees, or when he really was.

Hernandez was discovered hanging by a bedsheet tied to the cell window, and it’s unclear whether or not the window had been designed to stop suicide. For the cell window to be suicide-resistant, any safety bars ought to have been flush with the window or lined, or the hole between the bars and the window ought to have been eradicated, in accordance with a guide issued by Hayes on suicide-resistant cells.

Hernandez was additionally in a single cell in a common inhabitants unit on the time of his demise, in accordance with prison officials, which may also be a danger issue.

Because the investigation into Hernandez’s demise is ongoing, authorities and Hernandez’s household are nonetheless looking for solutions. “There have been no conversations or correspondence from Aaron to his household or authorized group that may have indicated something like this was potential,” said Jose Baez, a lawyer for Hernandez.

For those who or somebody wants assist, name 1-800-273-8255 for the National
Suicide Prevention Lifeline. It’s also possible to textual content HELLO to 741-741 without cost,
24-hour assist from the Crisis Text Line. Exterior of the U.S., please
go to the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database
of assets.