- New York City 06/10/2015 by Jake Pearson (AP)
An 18-year-old New York City inmate hanged himself in a Rikers Island jail cell Wednesday, the same day he was scheduled to see a psychiatrist, according to internal jail documents reviewed by The Associated Press.
Kenan Davis, who was taken into custody Friday on a parole violation charge, didn't have a history of suicide attempts and showed no signs of depression that might have prompted his transfer to a mental observation unit, an official briefed on the investigation told the AP.
Davis hanged himself in his jail cell in a general population housing unit for young adults and was found on the floor by a correction officer, said the official, who wasn't permitted to discuss an ongoing case and spoke on condition of anonymity. Eighteen inmates in the housing area were transferred to a gymnasium where they were receiving counseling Wednesday, the official said.
Contact information for Davis' attorney and family weren't immediately available.
A jails spokeswoman confirmed the death Wednesday, saying in a statement that while an investigation is ongoing, Commissioner Joe Ponte extends his condolences to the family.
Davis' suicide is the second at Rikers Island this year. On New Year's Day, a mentally ill Fabian Cruz, who was supposed to be placed on a suicide watch that wasn't implemented, hanged himself after a correction officer failed to transfer him to a special mental observation unit.
But the official said Davis didn't appear to show signs of depression or suicidal behavior when interviewed by a social worker on Monday. The teenager had requested to see a psychiatrist because he was feeling down about being in jail, the official said.
A spokesman for the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said officials were providing inmates in the area with mental health counseling.
City officials have vowed to reform the troubled 10-jail facility, especially the treatment of teenage and young adult inmates. The AP reported last summer based on city and state investigative documents that in nine of 11 inmate suicides since 2009, established protocols designed to prevent vulnerable inmates from hurting themselves weren't followed.
On Wednesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the private company that provides medical and mental health care in city jails would not have its contract renewed when it expires on Dec. 31. Instead, the city's public hospital system will take over care from Corizon Health, the mayor said.