Clackamas County Jail: Suicide Prevention Resources

Suicide is the leading cause of death in jails and prisons. In the United States, the jail suicide rate is almost four times that of the national average.

If you or someone you know in the Clackamas County Jail is thinking about suicide, contact our jail staff immediately.

Being in custody can be very stressful and create anxiety due to fear of the unknown. During your conversation with a loved one in custody, if you become concerned your loved one is in emotional distress and making comments of self-harm that lead to a  suicidal crisis, we're here to help. Please call Clackamas County Jail staff at 503-722-6777 or a Jail Medical professional at 503-722-6775.

The problem is real. Know the signs.

Entering jail and leaving the support of family and community, and dealing with the increasing challenges of incarceration with the weight of pending criminal charges or serving a sentence, can cause many to struggle. Depression, versus ordinary unhappiness, is characterized by longer and deeper feelings of despondency and the presence of certain characteristic symptoms.

This distinction is important — because in severe cases, depression can be life threatening, with suicide as a possible outcome.

You should contact the jail immediately if you have a loved one in jail and they develop persistent problems with depression, including:

  • Losing connections with family and friends outside jail
  • Taking poor care of themselves
  • Thinking of suicide or self-harm

These conditions do not have to be permanent. Try taking it one step at a time. Have your loved one or yourself contact Jail Staff to help. The jail has professionals that can assist your loved one though the tough times that accompany being in jail.

While it may not be uncommon to feel some emotional stress being incarcerated, thoughts of hurting oneself or suicide while in jail are treatable.

Do not keep suicidal thoughts to yourself. Please contact a jail staff member so that there is an opportunity to help your loved one.

If your loved one is having depressive thoughts, you should remind them that there are ways to improve nearly any problem or situation. As time passes and circumstances change, what is now a big problem may turn into a smaller problem. If they cannot think of solutions to their problem, it does not mean that other solutions do not exist. It simply means that they are currently unable to see other solutions by yourself.

Medical staff are available to talk to adults in custody if they experience feelings of depression, nightmares, loss of appetite, mood swings, hearing or seeing things that do not appear to be real or any other concerns about their mental health.

The Clackamas County Jail screens for suicidal ideations and past suicide attempts during our intake process, but, especially for suicide, the ideation may not be present during intake but may materialize at a later date or time due to other factors such as guilt or hopelessness.

How you can help:

  1. Recognize Potential Hharm
  2. Choose to Respond
  3. Take Action

Step 1. Recognize Potential Harm

To first help an individual who's experiencing thoughts of suicide, you need to recognize the self-induced harm that's occurring.

  • Expressing hopelessness about the future
  • Displaying severe/overwhelming emotional pain or distress
  • Changes in sleep (increased or decreased)
  • Recent increased agitation or irritability

Step 2.  Choose to Respond

The second step is to choose to respond. When choosing to respond you need to overcome any fear and worry you may have associated with talking to people having thoughts of suicide. There are a number of barriers that you might need to get past to be motivated and willing to intervene. These can include:

Barriers to Intervene:

  • "I'm sure someone else will do something, so I don't need to."
  • "I'm not responsible, it's someone else's problem."
  • "No one else thinks this is a problem so it's not a big deal."

Motivations to Intervene:

To overcome these barriers, it is important to think about the many reasons to help. These can include:

  • "I care about the person being impacted."
  • "I'll feel better knowing I did something."
  • "I would want someone to help me if I was in that situation."

Step 3. Take Action

If your loved one is in our custody, see the red bolded bullet point below for directions on how to notify us  of your concerns. If your loved one is not in custody you can contact any one of the three below listed entities on the bottom of the page that specialize in helping people with mental health issues/suicidal ideations.

If you are concerned about a loved one in the Clackamas County Jail whom you fee might be exhibiting suicidal ideations, please call us at any hour at 503-722-6777 and ask to speak with the sergeant on duty.

Resources available to those dealing with suicidal thoughts and ideations:

Suicide Warning Signs:

Seek help as soon as possible by contacting Jail Staff if someone incarcerated exhibits any of the following suicide warning signs:

  • Threatening to hurt or kill oneself or talking about wanting to hurt or kill oneself.
  • Looking for ways to kill oneself by seeking access to contraband, drugs, medication, or other means.
  • Talking or writing about death, dying, or suicide.
  • Feeling hopeless, or seeing no hope in the future.
  • Withdrawing from friends, family and other adults in custody.
  • Give away all possessions.
  • Experiencing dramatic mood changes.
  • Seeing no reason for living or having no sense of purpose in life.
“Facts and Figures” based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention research. (Bernadette Rabuy, 2015)