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Apparent suicide occurs in Jefferson County jail

Sheriff continues investigation into incident involving woman


A woman in custody at the Jefferson County Jail died one day after her arrest following an apparent suicide.

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office reports that Suzanne Burgaz, 54, was discovered non-responsive with a cord around her neck at 10 p.m. Aug. 31 in a dayroom inside the jail. Deputies and the jail’s medical staff report immediately beginning life-saving efforts until American Medical Response (AMR) ambulance personnel arrived.

Burgaz was transported to St. Anthony Hospital in Lakewood, where staff removed her from life support over the weekend.

Burgaz was arrested on Aug. 30 on accusations of false identification and three counts of failure to appear.

In Douglas County, Gary Bellinger, 40, an inmate serving time on a number of charges that included theft, vehicle trespass and possession of a weapon by a previous offender, is reported to have killed himself on Sept. 6 inside the Douglas County jail.

“With more people experiencing mental health issues, an increased jail population poses unique challenges for providing the necessary resources to those suffering from depression and other mental health conditions,” Jeffco Sheriff Jeff Shrader said in a statement.

Burgaz’s suicide is the second one this year that has occurred inside the Jefferson County jail. Since 2008, 11 inmate suicides have been reported. Two of those, one in 2010 and the other in 2011, occurred while the inmate was out on work release. No suicides occurred in 2009, 2012 and 2014. The highest number, three, happened in 2015.

The Jefferson County Coroner’s Office will determine the exact cause and manner of death following the completion of the Jeffco sheriff’s office investigation into death Burgaz’s death. The findings the investigation will also be presented to the District Attorney’s Office for review.

“We take extreme precautions to ensure inmates do not have an opportunity to take their own lives,” Shrader said. “But the bottom line is, we are responsible for individuals in our custody and when we lose someone to suicide, we take a very hard look at ourselves and how we can prevent such a tragedy from occurring again.”


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