Lake Oswego teen kills self shortly after leaving jail

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - An Oregon teenager killed himself shortly after his release from a downtown Portland jail, where he had been on suicide watch the night before, Multnomah County sheriff's officials said.

Joshua Overstreet, 18, of Lake Oswego died of head, neck and back trauma Friday night after jumping from a parking garage across the street from the Multnomah County Detention Center.

Overstreet had been placed on suicide watch after he was booked Thursday on a heroin possession charge, The Oregonian newspaper reported. He was held overnight, with a deputy regularly checking on him.

It's unclear what Overstreet said or did to be placed on suicide watch and why mental health evaluators later decided he was no longer a threat to himself.

County Health Department officials declined to provide any information about the case, citing medical privacy rules. Though the jails are run by the sheriff's office, Health Department employees make suicide watch determinations.

Sgt. Phil Anderchuk, president of the union that represents corrections deputies, said inmates are typically placed on suicide watch if they take or threaten action to hurt themselves. The inmates are kept in a special cell and monitored by jail deputies and Health Department staff.

Overstreet left the jail after a judge set him free on his own recognizance and a psychological evaluation by a jail health worker deemed him no longer a suicide threat.

If the health evaluator decides an inmate is still a suicide threat even after a court has ordered his release, the county can transport the inmate to a hospital or other mental health facility for his own protection, said Chief Deputy Ron Bishop, who oversees the county's two jails.

Anderchuk said the teenager's death reinforced the need to hire a full-time deputy exclusively for suicide watches. In recent months as many as four inmates have been on suicide watch at one time, he said.

 

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)