Child Services Fires Staff After Two Teens Commit Suicide In Custody

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht

After two Tennessee teens died in custody of the Department of Children’s Services, an independent review of a facility in found widespread problems.

Mountain View Youth Development Center, which oversees the welfare of 114 teen boys, fired two security officers Tuesday and the security manager resigned the same day.

A report from the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth found widespread delays in children’s medication, failure to conduct required checks on kids, poor staff training and several staffing shortages.

Brandon Greene, 16, fatally hung himself at the facility in his room on July 13, The Tennessean reported. The teen had been on suicide watch three times before. Four days after he was taken off suicide watch he hung himself with a T-shirt wrapped around a laundry bag cord and attached to a metal shelf above his bed.

The report noted that Greene was prescribed psychotropic medication but hadn’t taken the medicine because the facility had not yet obtained it.

On Aug. 1, an 18-year-old identified by his father as Frank Cass Jr. also hanged himself from the metal shelf unit in his room at the facility. The day he died, staff was supposed to check on him every 15 minutes. Instead, he wasn’t discovered for 45 minutes, according to the newspaper.

Both teens were taking the anti-anxiety drug Zoloft which has side effects including “violent behavior, mania or aggression, which can all lead to suicide,” the report said.

About 57 percent of the teens living at the east Tennessee facility are prescribed psychotropic medications.

The facility currently has 30 unfilled positions and DCS Commissioner Jim Henry says he is working to expedite hiring and training efforts.

Sources: The Tennessean,

Image credit: Flickr Creative Commons / Andy Melton