Prisons Service Looks to Prevent Copycat Suicides

The Israel Prisons Service is studying ways to prevent other prisoners from killing themselves by jumping head first from heights as Assaf Goldring did. Goldring was in prison awaiting trial for suffocating his three-year-old daughter to death.

One possible method is to place barbed wire on top of the existing fences in the prison exercise yard.

Goldring took his own life in 15 seconds on Monday: he climbed the 3.1-meter-high fence in the courtyard, placed his hands at his sides so they would not break his fall, and dropped head-first. His skull was smashed by the impact with the concrete courtyard, and he was declared dead at the scene by Magen David Adom medics.

A committee headed by a senior Prisons Service officer is to begin investigating the case today.

According to a preliminary investigation by the Prisons Service, after Goldring apparently understood that he would not be able to kill himself in his cell, where a suicide-watch was in force, he sought a way to circumvent the measures. On Monday he went on his daily walk at 3 P.M. accompanied by a guard, in the 36-square-meter courtyard within the larger courtyard at Hadarim Prison in the Sharon region.

The smaller courtyard is for prisoners who are separated from the general population due to concerns they will harm themselves or fall victim to violence from other prisoners. According to procedure, Goldring's hands were free so he could stretch. Taking advantage of the guard's inspection of the courtyard Goldring used a door in the fence to scale the barrier.

The Prisons Service said yesterday that they face a complicated dilemma when it comes to suicidal prisoners. The only way to prevent them from carrying out their wish is to cuff them to their beds all day long. Entertainer Dudu Topaz, who also committed suicide in jail, was restrained this way for a number of weeks, as was Goldring, following a psychiatric evaluation in each case that they were clearly suicidal.

However, the psychiatrists subsequently determined that the immediate danger had passed, and they were no longer restrained. Goldring was placed in a cell alone, monitored by a closed-circuit camera. The Prison Service has built 130 such cells over the last two years, and others are to be built soon.

"It must be understood that cuffing a prisoner makes his life miserable. There are over 1,000 prisoners who are suicide risks but only a few actually do take their own lives. Is it worth hurting 1,000 prisoners to prevent 15 from committing suicide?" a Prison Service official said yesterday. "We must not forget that when we cuff a prisoner, various elements come, among them the public defender's office, and demand explanations for hurting the prisoners in this way."

Ronny Ron pledges he will not commit suicide

"I didn't kill myself because I don't have the strength Dudu Topaz and Assaf Goldring had. Sorry to disappoint," Ronny Ron, accused of murdering his 4-year-old granddaughter Rose Pizem last year, said at his trial yesterday.

Assaf Goldring, accused of murdering his 3-year-old daughter Noa, killed himself on Monday by jumping from a three-meter prison fence. Entertainer Topaz committed suicide in his prison cell last month.

The inconsistencies in Ron's testimony continued yesterday as he struggled to give a clear reply on whether he returned to Tel Aviv's Yarkon River after dumping Rose's body there. He at first denied this, then said he returned to attempt suicide. Prosecutor Anna Avidov said Ron changed his account when he realized his cellphone records placed him near the river.

Ron also contradicted himself in his account on when he told his wife and Rose's mother, Marie Pizem, about Rose's death. In earlier testimony, he told the court that Marie was unaware of Rose's death when both were arrested. He then said he told her a while before the arrest that Rose had had an accident and would not be coming back. Yesterday he said he told Marie several days after Rose's death.