UPDATE: Local detention centers address mental health of inmates

Agencies across the Valley are looking to implement the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline as a resource.
Posted at 10:52 PM, Mar 13, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-14 00:52:40-04

TREASURE VALLEY, IDAHO — Officials are investigating the apparent suicide of a maximum security inmate Wednesday, identified as 20-year-old Bowdrie Chatterton, marking the third apparent suicide Idaho Department of Correction (IDOC) officials have investigated in the last few months. Local detention centers are setting their sights on how to prevent this, with many considering implementing the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline as a resource.

The Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline is a resource for someone needing to express anything-- from just venting about their feelings, to expressing thoughts of suicide.

"Ya know, do some collaborative problem solving, make a safety plan," said John Reusser, Director, Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline.

As 6 On Your Side previously reported in my continuing coverage, I asked IDOC why they had not implemented the hotline as a resource for inmates. Officials then told me they would start taking those steps.

Recently, an IDOC spokesperson provided an update:

"Still in process. We had the health service administrator at ada county jail (where they have already implemented use of the hotline) address our clinical supervisor staff yesterday to give tips and advice on implementation. We are also seeking to contact other agencies who have similar arrangements for guidance and advice."
Dr. Walter Campbell, IDOC Chief Psychologist

Ada County Jail implemented the hotline more than a year ago. The director of the hotline says they've gotten about a call a day from those inmates.

"Since this program rolled out, they've not had a completed suicide in the Ada County Jail," said Reusser.

In addition, Canyon County Jail is now following suit.

"It's understandable why that thought would be in somebody's mind, and a deputy can only be in so many spots at once," said Captain Daren Ward, Jail Commander, Canyon County Jail.

Ward says they are in the beginning stages of implementing the hotline.

"It's just another tool to allow them to reach out to someone and get help."

Officials say if an inmate discloses they're having thoughts of suicide or self-harm, officials will be clued in.

"They would notify us and let us intervene to stop that inmate from harming themselves."

And to build on that progress, on May 21, Canyon County Jail will ask for voters to approve a $187,000,0000 bond to expand on their mental health facilities with added rooms for counseling and worship.

Jean Mutchie, Community Health Manager at St. Luke's, hopes the bond will pass.

"Touring that jail, um, I don't think there's a lot that inspires hope," said Mutchie.

She says she knows inmates should be held accountable for the things they've done, but ultimately she wishes each facility could achieve this: "Point them to a future where they can be successful."