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Napa State wary after two suicides on same ward

Saturday, August 2, 2003

By MARSHA DORGAN
Register Staff Writer

Authorities are investigating two suicides at Napa State Hospital that occurred on the same ward.

Patient Raymond Uphoff, 56, died on July 21, sheriff's Capt. Gene Lyerla said. Wafa Farag, 45, also a patient, died on June 3, Lyerla added.

Autopsies revealed the men died from hanging, Lyerla said. The deaths happened at the Q 1 and 2 ward in the hospital.

Although hospital spokeswoman Lupe Rincon would not go into detail, she said investigators are looking into the fact the suicides happened on the same ward.

"We do not suspect foul play in either death," she said. "We have taken measures to prevent this from happening again on this ward."

However, Rincon was not able to say what those measures are. "I don't have that information at this time," she said.

Rincon also said that no disciplinary action had been taken against staff who work the Q 1 and 2 ward.

Rincon said in both suicides, the men were seen alive and well by staff within 15 to 30 minutes before their deaths.

Although Rincon declined to confirm the names of the dead patients because of confidentially regulations, she agreed to talk to the Register, using the men's ages.

The 45-year-old patient had shown signs of being suicidal, she said.

"He made a comment to another patient of a suicidal nature" months before his suicide, Rincon said. When the incident was reported to hospital staff, the victim received counseling and treatment.

About two months prior to his death, the patient was evaluated by a psychiatrist, who deemed him no longer a danger to himself, Rincon said.

He was found by staff in the shower room. He had tied a bed sheet around his neck and tied the other end to a shower head, Rincon said.

The 56-year-old patient showed no signs of being suicidal, she said.

He was found hanging from a door inside his room, Rincon said, adding, he had tied a radio cord around his neck.

Rincon said patients are allowed to have radios in their rooms as long as they prove they can use them responsibly.

So far, these have been the only suicides this year at the hospital, she said. "Suicides are rare occurrences."

The last suicide happened in September 2001, Rincon said, when a 24-year-old male was found hanging from his clothes locker.

"He had just returned from a social event with other patients. He showed no signs whatsoever of being suicidal," she said. "He was seen just 15 minutes prior to his death watching television and visiting with other patients."

Marsha Dorgan can be reached at 256-2214 or mdorgan@napanews.com


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