Documents show inmate had previous suicide attempt

COVINGTON — The Newton County inmate who died earlier this month after hanging himself in his jail cell had apparently attempted suicide a couple of months earlier, according to medical documents.

Eighteen-year-old Jade Brice Tramel died late in the evening on March 19 after he was placed on life support at Newton Medical Center. A detention officer at the Newton Law Enforcement Center found him early that morning hanging by a sheet from the top bunk in his cell.

“A detention officer making normal rounds observed Tramel in his cell, hanging,” NCSO Sgt. Cortney Morrison said at the time. “The detention officer cut him down and administered CPR until EMS got there. EMS rushed him to the hospital, where he was put on life support.”

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is investigating the situation, which is standard procedure, Morrison said.

Tramel was booked into the Newton County jail on Dec. 3 on charges of driving without a license, possession of marijuana, possession and use of drug-related objects, failure to appear, and two counts of burglary.

Tramel’s mother, Melanie Tramel, told the Citizen when her son was first booked in the jail, she contacted the jail and asked that he be placed on suicide watch. She said she was told that he already was.

Melanie Tramel said she first learned that her son had attempted suicide perhaps twice before in the jail when she was at the hospital with him shortly before he died.

After Tramel died, she found some medical documents included in his personal effects. According to these documents, which include an emergency treatment referral form and general emergency department discharge instructions from Newton Medical Center dated Jan. 12, Tramel had attempted to hang himself with a sheet.

At that time, he was diagnosed with suicidal ideation and acute depression, the discharge instructions state.

“Mr. Tramel must remain in a suicide watch unit until seen by his psychiatrist. Continue antidepressant as directed. Return if worsens or new problems develop,” the form states.

Melanie Tramel said she was told at the hospital in March that her son was seen by a psychiatrist at the jail, but the psychiatrist felt confident he could be removed from suicide watch.

While she had spoken to her son by telephone while he was in jail, she said had no indication that he had been removed from suicide watch or that he had previously attempted suicide during his three months in the jail.

“If I had been told that he had tried this before, I would have done anything I could to have made the seven-hour drive and come up there every weekend to make sure he was stable. There were things that could have been done,” Melanie said. “This could have been prevented.”

Melanie said she has asked the Sheriff’s Office for all documentation regarding her son, but has been told no information will be released until after the GBI investigation is complete.

“I need to know how this happened. I need to know how if this happened twice before, how was he taken off suicide watch,” she said. “If he attempted this twice in three months, he damned sure shouldn’t have been left alone in a cell with sheets.”

She said her son had had a history of drug use and he had been in and out of drug rehabilitation centers for years in Florida.

Jade Tramel had been arrested at least twice in June in Florida and again in November in Newton County before his Dec. 3 arrest.

Melanie said that her son moved to Georgia a few months later. She said while Jade had been troubled for some time, the two of them communicated on a regular basis and he would post comments on her Facebook page saying he loved her.

When Jade Tramel was arrested in Newton County in December, Melanie said she was relieved.

“I just can’t believe this happened,” she said. “I was so relieved he was in jail because for the first time I knew exactly where he was and that he was safe.”

A call by the Citizen to the Newton County Sheriff’s Office for comment was not immediately returned.