Whats Behind Suicides In Bergen County Jail?
To the Editor: What is disturbing about the high suicide rate for the Bergen County Jail in Hackensack (news article, Feb. 29) is the apparent failure of precautions instituted in 1988 that involved training for county correction officers in spotting suicide-prone inmates and in preventing suicides or attempts at suicide. Selected inmates were given 20 hours of training as suicide observation aides to spot and deter potential suicides. The combined program of increased training for correction officers and inmate observation aides resulted in no suicides in the jails from Jan. 1, 1988, to April 28, 1991, the date of the first of the four recent suicides. Bergen County authorities do not seem able to give a logical explanation why a jail that has a smaller inmate population than many of its counterparts should have the highest suicide rate in New Jersey. What is going on? ROBERT R. HERB Maywood, N.J., March 11, 1992 The writer was Sheriff of Bergen County from 1988 to 1991.