Davis County Jail India pod

The Davis County Jail's India pod is pictured on July 19, 2016.

FARMINGTON — A male inmate died by suicide at the Davis County Jail Saturday night, the Sheriff's Office said.

The name of the inmate and the manner of death were not immediately released. Liz Sollis, Sheriff's Office spokesperson, said Monday that additional information may be available later in the day.

It was the second suicide at the Davis jail in less than a month. 

Jesse Paul Murff, 39, of Kaysville, was arrested May 22 on 26 counts related to alleged sexual abuse. Jail personnel found Murff unresponsive at 2:30 p.m. May 31. He died later in the week.

Sollis said the Saturday night suicide happened at about 8 p.m.

"Although every effort was made to bring the individual back to life, from performing CPR to transporting them to a hospital for life-saving treatment, they did not survive," a Sheriff's Office news release said.

A few hours earlier, a female inmate was injured in a fall from an upper tier in a cell block, Sollis said. The inmate landed on the first floor, a fall of about 10 feet.

Correctional officers and medical personnel immediately responded and provided initial care, a news release said. The woman was transported to a hospital and was later reported to be in stable condition.

The inmate would be medically furloughed to her family, the release said.

Sollis said the two incidents Saturday happened in separate quarantine units for new inmates. The jail holds all new inmates in medical quarantine for 14 days after arrival to enable close monitoring and reduce the risks of spreading the coronavirus in the jail.

It is unknown whether the woman's fall may have been a suicide attempt, Sollis said.

Both incidents are under investigation. Separate investigations are being conducted by the Sheriff's Office and Farmington police.

The frequency of jail rounds in the quarantine areas has been increased to every 30 minutes so corrections deputies can keep closer tabs on inmates, Sheriff Kelly Sparks said Monday afternoon.

In the jail at large, rounds are done once per hour.

If an inmate is threatening suicide or suicidal, watch frequency may be reduced to 15- or 10-minute intervals or constant monitoring, Sparks said.

During the jail intake process, medical staff members screen new inmates for mental health issues, including any suicidal ideation, "but unfortunately not everybody discloses that," Sollis said.

After that, "just keeping an eye on them is the best anybody can do," she said.

The jail has expanded and tightened its screening processes so more mental health issues and drug addiction and withdrawal problems can be flagged.

Sparks took office in January 2019, and the two suicides are the first deaths in the jail since then.

The Davis jail was under close public scrutiny after seven inmates died there in 2016-17.

"It's been about four years since we had a successful suicide in the jail," Sparks said. "We're just trying to do everything we can. There are attempts all the time."

He said a survey by the Sheriff's Office's life safety committee in February found that 80% of corrections deputies have interrupted 1 to 5 inmate suicide attempts during their careers.

"That's pretty remarkable when you think about it," Sparks said. "We're struggling with this. We just wish we could prevent every one of them." 

Sollis said the Sheriff's Office contacted Davis Behavioral Health to send in a crisis team to provide counseling for inmates and jail staff members who may have seen Saturday's events.

“We extend our deepest condolences to the family and friends,” Sparks said in a press release about the Saturday incidents. “Today has been a very difficult day and we are providing everyone impacted by these tragic events the support they need.”

The Sheriff's Office reminded that free and confidential support is available for anyone who is struggling with hopelessness or depression, 24/7, at:

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
  • Davis Behavioral Health: 801-923-7547

You can reach reporter Mark Shenefelt at mshenefelt@standard.net or 801 625-4224. Follow him on Twitter at @mshenefelt.

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