Prison experts are expressing shock that billionaire Jeffrey Epstein was able to apparently take his life while being held in protective custody inside a jail where suicide was considered to be "nearly impossible."
Reports claimed that Epstein hanged himself in his cell inside the federal Metropolitan Correctional Center. He was rushed to a hospital in cardiac arrest and declared dead. Details about exactly how he was able to take his life or how guards did not prevent the act have not yet been shared.
Epstein's death has led to anger and demands for answers as to how he would have been able to take his own life inside the tightly guarded unit, which is away from the general prison population. As the New York Post noted, Epstein had placed on suicide watch at some point during his stay, a time which he was presumably held in a cell without any implements that could be used to take his life, meaning he would be stripped of shoelaces and belt. Yet the report noted he had been taken off suicide watch at some point and was not under watch when he apparently died by suicide on Saturday.
Even if Epstein was not placed on a formal suicide watch, suicide was believed to be virtually impossible within the Metropolitan Correctional Center, a federal facility in Manhattan. As the New York Post reported, there appeared to be only one other death by suicide there over the past 21 years, the 1998 death of Philadelphia drug kingpin Louis Turra.
"Jeffrey Epstein's shocking death occurred at an ultra-secure federal lock-up where suicide is supposedly next to impossible," the report noted.
As NBC News reported, experts said they were perplexed as to why Epstein would have been taken off suicide watch in the first place.
"For them to pull him off suicide watch is shocking," Cameron Lindsay, a former warden who worked at three federal facilities, told the news outlet. "For someone this high-profile, with these allegations and this many victims, who has had a suicide attempt in the last few weeks, you can take absolutely no chances."As the report added, some union officials believe that understaffing at the jail may have played a role in Epstein's apparent suicide. The local federal prison union in New York had lodged complaints about staffing shortages at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, the report noted. Attorney General William Barr has ordered a federal investigation into Epstein's death.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741. For readers outside the U.S., visit Suicide.org or Befrienders Worldwide for international resources you can use to find help.