- Associated Press - Monday, December 5, 2016

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Records show the number of suicides in county jails has declined since changes were implemented that include a more comprehensive mental health screening of inmates.

The head of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards on Monday said 14 jail suicides have been reported since last December. Brandon Wood says that compares to 34 suicides the previous year.

Texas in the prior five years averaged 23 suicides annually.

Wood says the number has dropped largely because intake forms are more detailed.

If an inmate acknowledges a suicide attempt, for instance, the booking officer must tell a supervisor or mental health official. Officers previously used their own discretion.

Wood says the changes were in place before motorist Sandra Bland killed herself in the Waller County jail last year, but that her death gave the changes greater urgency.

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