Rikers Island inmate with mental health issues dies by suicide

A 25-year-old Rikers Island inmate who suffered from mental health issues hung himself in his cell Saturday afternoon, marking the fourth in-custody death at the embattled jail complex so far this yearThe Post has learned.

Dashawn Carter, who arrived on Rikers Thursday on burglary and robbery charges, was discovered by a correction officer hanging from a sheet attached to a window in his cell at the Anne M. Kross Center around 5 pm, internal records obtained by The Post show.

The jail guard cut down the sheet and placed Carter on the bed. He was pronounced dead by an on-site doctor eight minutes later, the records show.

Correction officers are required to do tours of regular housing areas every thirty minutes, but many posts at the lockup continue to go unmanned amid a staffing crisis, jailhouse sources said. It was not immediately clear how long Carter had been hanging before he was noticed.

“Inmates are looking out after themselves. Nothing has changed” since Commissioner Louis Molina was appointed to helm the jail by Mayor Eric Adams in January, one source said.

The source said Carter was known to have mental health issues and that he had been hospitalized before being placed back in general population.

The city medical examiner will determine his cause of death.

The jail guard cut down the sheet and placed Carter on the bed.  He was pronounced dead by an on-site doctor eight minutes later.
The jail guard cut down the sheet and placed Carter on the bed. He was pronounced dead by an on-site doctor eight minutes later.
AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File

jail has been in the throes of a crisis brought on by a ballooning jail population and a staffing shortage that has left both inmates and workers in danger.

Three other inmates have died in-custody so far this year – two that occurred within two days of each other in March. Their causes of death have yet to be released.

Manhattan federal prosecutors last month told a judge they were “alarmed” by the continued violence at Department of Correction facilities — and floated the idea of ​​a federal takeover if the agency doesn’t improve conditions.

Rikers have been in the throes of a crisis brought on by a ballooning jail population and a staffing shortage that has left both inmates and workers in danger.
Rikers have been in the throes of a crisis brought on by a ballooning jail population and a staffing shortage that has left both inmates and workers in danger.
EPA/JUSTIN LANE

LastNovember, The Post revealed that only a fraction of uniformed DOC staff had completed required suicide prevention refresher trainings.

Uniformed staffers on Rikers are required to complete the course each year but between Nov. 1, 2020 and Nov. 8, 2021, only around 2,400 out of roughly 8,800 had received the updated lifesaving training, the DOC said.

During that time same period, six inmates killed themselves while in DOC custody — more than the past five years combined and the most detainee suicides seen since 2003when the average jail population was 14,533, nearly triple the amount it is now, according to city data.

Molina, the DOC commissioner, issued a statement after Carter’s death, saying that any death in custody is “a tragic event and an impactful loss.”

“We are truly heartbroken for this person’s family and loved ones and we wish to express our deepest condolences,” Molina said.

“As with all deaths in custody, we will work with our partner agencies on an immediate and full investigation.”

In 2021, 16 people died in DOC custody — more than in 2019 and 2020 combined and the most fatalities since 2016.

If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts or are experiencing a mental health crisis and live in New York City, you can call 1-888-NYC-WELL for free and confidential crisis counseling. If you live outside the five boroughs, you can dial the 24/7 National Suicide Prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or go to SuicidePreventionLifeline.org.

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