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Monday, May 25, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Washington

Clark County Jail inmate dies in ‘apparent suicide’

UPDATED: Tue., March 24, 2020

By Jerzy Shedlock Columbian (Vancouver, Wash.)

A 64-year-old Clark County Jail inmate died by suicide Sunday morning after jumping from the second-floor tier of his housing unit, the sheriff’s office reported.

Bobby B. Crist jumped to the concrete floor below in “an apparent suicide attempt” around 5 a.m., according to a Clark County Sheriff’s Office news release.

Corrections staff called on jail nurses to help Crist, who was taken to a local hospital and treated for unspecified injuries.

According to the Clark County Medical Examiner’s Office, Crist succumbed to his injuries several hours later, at 8:51 a.m.

Crist was arrested March 16 on suspicion of second-degree domestic violence assault and strangulation. He made a first appearance on the allegations in Clark County Superior Court the next day. He was being held at the jail on $40,000 bail.

Suicide is a leading cause of jail deaths, both nationally and statewide, and has been rising nationally since 2009, according to a state jail death report released in May 2019 by Columbia Legal Services.

Between January 2005 and June 2016, 22 inmates died in the Clark County Jail – 16 by suicide. Clark County’s jail had more inmates die by suicide than any other Washington county; King and Pierce counties reported nine and Yakima County had seven in the same time frame, the report states.

In 2012, there were four suicides at the jail – its worst year for suicides in recent decades, according to Columbian archives, prompting jail officials to make a number of changes, including better training for staff.

The jail’s last previous suicide before Sunday was in July 2016, according to sheriff’s Sgt. Brent Waddell, and Crist’s death is the first time someone has succumbed to their injuries jumping from the second tier.

Fourteen inmates have died by suicide in Spokane County Jail since 2015. Two of those inmates died after jumping from second-floor railings in the jail. In January, county jail Director Mike Sparber said the jail would heighten its railings to the ceiling on the second floor, in an attempt to prevent suicides.

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