Juvenile psychiatric patient, 13, dies at state facility in Baltimore

Death a 'possible suicide,' first at decades-old facility, officials say

January 10, 2013|By Kevin Rector, The Baltimore Sun

A 13-year-old patient at a state-run psychiatric treatment facility in Baltimore died from a "possible suicide" Tuesday night after being found unresponsive by facility staff, police and state health officials said.

The death is the first at the Regional Institute for Children and Adolescents in Baltimore, a residential facility for patients aged 12 to 18 that opened at its current location in Southwest Baltimore in the early 1970s, said Dori Henry, a spokeswoman for the state's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Staff at the facility, which serves adolescents with "emotional, behavioral and learning difficulties," found the boy about 8 p.m., and he was pronounced dead about 8:50 p.m. at a local hospital, Henry said.

According to police, the boy was alone in a room while other residents were watching television in a common area. He was later found in the bathroom, hanging from a shower rod, police said.

The facility, which has 38 residential patients, also has a day program with 45 patients, and a school, according to the health department. It is located in the 600 block of S. Chapelgate Lane in the Beechfield neighborhood, near the Baltimore National Cemetery.

Henry declined to release the name, age and gender of the patient, citing medical privacy laws. Police, who are investigating the case, provided additional information and said the case remains under investigation.

The Mental Hygiene Administration and the Office of Health Care Quality, which oversees healthcare facilities in the state, are also conducting investigations, Henry said.

Henry said she could not outline what sort of security measures are in place at the facility, but said it is "not a prison." Some, but not all, patients at the facility are referred there by the Department of Juvenile Services.

The RICA-Baltimore facility, which is located at the former site of St. Peter's Seminary and has been in headlines in past years after needed renovations were stalled, was started in 1959 — at the peak of the nation's institutionalization of the mentally ill — on the grounds of Rosewood state hospital in Baltimore County.

It moved to its current location in 1973, and is the original RICA program. There are now multiple branches.

Henry said more information about the death will be released when available.



Sun reporter Justin Fenton contributed to this report

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