A 39-year-old man who strangled himself in the Clallam County jail suffered from mental illness.
According to court documents, Andrew Staritzky had bipolar disorder and hypergraphia and was in custody on suspicion of harassing and threatening to kill his mental health provider. He had been in the jail for 11 days when he committed suicide.
Staritzky was found lying on the floor of a jail cell without a pulse around 5:39 a.m. May 18 after other inmates pounded on the walls for help, Jail Superintendent Ron Sukert said.
Undersheriff Ron Peregrin said Staritzky had indicated he had some previous suicidal thoughts but that it was several years in his past so jail staff felt that he was past it.
“This guy had not acted out at all,” Peregrin said. “He hadn’t given staff any indication whatsoever that there was any kind of issue.”
Peregrin said Staritzky was acting very normal and making phone calls to his family while in custody.
Staritzky was in a cell block with other inmates and jail staff performed the routine hourly cell check not long before he strangled himself, Peregrin said.
“It only took a matter of minutes,” he said.
Corrections officers administered CPR until medics arrived. Staritzky was not breathing but during the course of treatment they were able to detect a heartbeat, Sukert said.
Staritzky was transported to Olympic Medical Center then airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. He remained there in critical condition until May 22, when he was taken off life support, Chief Criminal Deputy Ron Cameron said.
Peregrin said the last suicide was three or four years ago, though attempts are much more common. Last year, six life-saving awards were given to jail staff for thwarting suicide attempts, he said.
“We have far more saves in the jail than we have successful attempts and I think that’s indicative of the professional staff that we have in the jail,” he said.
The Major Incident Response Team, in this case managed by the Port Angeles Police Department, is investigating the incident. Investigators are awaiting autopsy results, Cameron said.
The entire case investigation will be forwarded to the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office once the results are released.
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