Sedgwick County inmate tries suicide after portable toilet arson arrest

08/29/2012 5:00 AM

08/29/2012 6:04 PM

A man accused of setting a fire in a portable toilet later tried to kill himself by wrapping a telephone cord around his neck after being booked into the Sedgwick County Jail, officials said Wednesday.

The 30-year-old man, who was in critical condition after the suicide attempt Tuesday night, appeared to be responsive as he was being treated Wednesday, and that is a positive sign, sheriff’s Capt. Larry Bragg said.

The inmate, who had been arrested on suspicion of arson, was being released from custody later Wednesday and is not facing any court date, Bragg said.

The man, who has an Illinois address, had been arrested after a security guard saw someone set a portable toilet on fire by lighting paper in a urinal Tuesday night in the 100 block of South Topeka, said Wichita Fire Capt. Stuart Bevis. The damage amounted to only about $100.

According to a news release Wednesday morning, jail staff found the man trying to kill himself about 9:54 p.m. Tuesday. He was alone in a booking cell. The suicide attempt occurred about an hour and a half after the man was booked into the jail.

Phone cords at the jail already had been shortened in an effort to prevent hazards, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Jail staff quickly revived the man, who was taken by ambulance to a local hospital, where he had been put under guard, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Since January 2011, two inmates have died from suicide and 54 inmates have attempted suicide at the jail, the Sheriff’s Office said.

“The Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office places an emphasis on inmate safety, to include annual training for detention staff members on suicide prevention,” the news release said.

Contributing: Stan Finger of The Eagle

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