San Diego County to settle lawsuit in 16-year-old’s suicide

22 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Family Of Trayvon Martin Protester Who Hanged Herself In Juvenile Hall Gets $1 Million.

SAN DIEGO – San Diego County has agreed to pay $1 million to the family of a 16-year-old girl who killed herself while in a juvenile detention facility. The lawsuit asserted that staff members at the Girls Rehabilitation Facility were poorly trained in mental health issues and failed to monitor Rosemary Summers, 16, even though it was known that she was threatening suicide. A settlement approved by the county’s Board of Supervisors this week will resolve a lawsuit filed by the parents of 16-year-old Rosemary Summers, who hanged herself with a bedsheet at the facility in September 2013.

The lawsuit was filed in Superior Court by Solana Beach attorney Gerald Singleton on behalf of Summers’ mother, Cheyenne Chanterelle, and her father, Arthur Summers. Michele Clock, a county spokesman, said that improvements in training and staffing have been made, or are in the process of being made, “to prevent a tragedy like this from ever occurring again.” “Rosemary Summers’ death was the first suicide by a juvenile in county probation custody in 32 years,” Clock said. “Providing a safe environment for youth in custody is the highest priority for the Probation Department and their staff.” According to court documents, the teenager had told county employees of her desire to kill herself, once passing a note reading, “I feel like I want to hurt myself.

Singleton also said that staff who found Summers hanging in her room took several minutes to cut her down because they couldn’t find scissors or a knife. She was prescribed mood-altering drugs, which, the family’s attorney asserted, may have sent her into a deeper state of depression and thoughts of suicide. She touched so many lives in her short years here on Earth.” Summers was staying at the juvenile facility after violating the terms of her probation by attending a rally for Trayvon Martin, the black teen killed in a controversial shooting in Florida, without telling her probation officer, according to The Los Angeles Times. She went to juvenile hall for the first time at age 15 after being charged with possession of marijuana and resisting arrest, according to City Beat San Diego.

She was diagnosed with a variety of mental illnesses, including depression and anxiety, and had expressed an interest in self-harm and suicide numerous times. Unlike other parts of juvenile hall, the cell doors here do not lock and there are some decorations in common areas to make the hall feel more like a home.

She later went to her room, and intentionally tried to prevent staff—who are required to do safety checks every 15 minutes— from seeing into her room by putting a piece of paper over the cell’s window. And according to paralegal Stephanie Powell, who worked on the family’s case, the first two female staff members to enter the room couldn’t support Rosemary’s body weight or untie the sheet. “So, she’s still hanging with her body weight while all of this is going on. All they did was give her these different drugs, one of which, Ability, has been linked to suicidal ideation in teenagers.” Powell echoed these statements, saying that she found records indicating that on multiple occasions when Rosemary had asked to see a counselor, she’d been sent to a nurse or probation officer instead, or ignored.

In a memorial fundraising page set up by Rosemary’s mother Chanterelle, she writes, “Rosemary Summers is one of the brightest spirits this world has ever known!! National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or take the person to an emergency room or seek help from a medical or mental health professional.

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