AUBURN — A 52-year-old inmate from Lewiston committed suicide Saturday while under observation at the Androscoggin County Jail.
Corrections officers inside the jail discovered the man at 1:04 p.m. He had hanged himself with pieces of a ripped bedsheet, Sheriff Guy Desjardins said. Paramedics rushed the man to Central Maine Medical Center, where he died.
The sheriff's office did not release the man's identity, pending notification of next of kin.
Desjardins said the man had health issues. On Friday, guards put him under observation because he was suspected of not taking his prescribed medication. He was moved to a cell near the jail's central booking area and given periodic checks.
They did not classify him as a suicide risk, Desjardins said.
Minutes after Saturday's suicide, the Sheriff's Department began a preliminary investigation.
Other agencies also will be examining what happened. Calls went out to the District Attorney's Office and the Maine Attorney General's Office, Desjardins said. And Maine State Police will be charged with doing a more thorough examination.
“We investigate all deaths in any of Maine's prisons and jails,” said Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety.
The investigation will address how a person under observation could succeed in such an act, Desjardins said. Police will likely interview staff, study logs and examine other records.
The observation cells are located in a high-traffic area of the jail. They sit along a small corridor between central booking, where all new inmates are taken, and the control room where locks are controlled and video cameras are monitored.
The death marks the second suicide in the 20-year-old jail. The first occurred shortly after the jail opened in 1990.
“We've had several attempts in recent years,” the sheriff said. “But those people made it.”
The former jail, which was razed last fall, had been notorious.
Suicide attempts were common as the small facility with floor-to-ceiling bars grew overcrowded. During a 10-day period in March 1988, four people tried to commit suicide and three succeeded.