Financier and accused pedophile Jeffrey Epstein's apparent suicide is one of nearly a dozen suicides that happen per year in America's federal prisons, according to records collected by the News4 I-Team.
The feds have more than 100 prisons and prison camps nationwide. Federal records show nearly 300 suicide attempts each year, and about a dozen that result in death.
The feds screen inmates for mental illness and suicidal tendencies, and the system has special housing and suicide watch for those inmates. But internal agency audits reviewed by News4 say the Federal Bureau of Prisons underestimates the number of mentally ill in custody.
One of those former inmates says, like others, she hid her suicidal tendencies because she was worried they would strip her of belongings and place her in solitary confinement. She spoke with News4, but did not want to be identified.
"If you're suicidal, they put you in a room that's freezing cold. They bring you trays and no eating utensils. They handcuff you to get you to the bathroom," she said. "If you weren't suicidal on the way in, you're laying there thinking, I'm really gonna do myself in when I get out."
More than 40 inmates in jails and prisons in the Washington, D.C. area have died by suicide in custody since 2014, according to an investigation by the News4 I-Team. Among them was accused killer Tyler Tessier in Montgomery County last year.
Local correctional agencies in Maryland and Virginia have told us to reduce the risk, they're more frequently placing two inmates in a cell, as well as paying others to help keep watch.