A woman who had just been released from suicide watch at Oahu’s largest jail apparently hanged herself on June 15, and was pronounced dead earlier this week after being disconnected from life support, according to corrections officials and family members.

It was the second apparent suicide in a Hawaii jail this month.

Staff at Oahu Community Correctional Center who spoke on condition that they not be identified said Diamond Simeona-Agoo, 21, had a history of mental health problems and was repeatedly placed on suicide watch before she was returned to a general population module on June 15.

Simeona-Agoo was then placed in disciplinary isolation as punishment for previous misconduct shortly after she was released from suicide watch, staff said. She was found hanging in her cell at about 7:30 p.m.

Hawaii correctional officials do not identify inmates who die in custody, but Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Toni Schwartz confirmed a woman was found unconscious and unresponsive in her cell at OCCC on June 15, and staff called for help and began administering aid.

She was taken to a hospital at about 8:30 p.m. on June 15, and the hospital notified the department that she was pronounced dead at 9:41 p.m. Monday.

“As is normal procedure, an internal investigation was initiated by the Department of Public Safety,” Schwartz said in a written statement.

Agoo Family Prayer Circle Queens Hospital Diamond Simeona
The family of Diamond Simeona-Agoo formed a prayer circle for her outside The Queens’ Medical Center Hospital on Monday. They waited outside for most of the day to be able to visit her. Ku‘u Kauanoe/Civil Beat/2022

Diamond Simeona-Agoo was one of nine children of Joycelynn “Joyce” Simeona, and the family waited most of the day on Monday at The Queen’s Medical Center for a chance to say goodbye. When Joyce asked that her daughter remain on life support for another day to “give her a fighting chance,” she said the doctor replied: “There is no fighting chance.”

Simeona said she was told by prison staff that Diamond had hanged herself twice before, and only survived her last attempt when a piece of a vent she had been hanging from broke. “I guess she was just crying out for help,” she said.

Diamond Simeona-Agoo 

“She wasn’t in her right state of mind,” Simeona said. “Really, they weren’t supposed to put her in general (population).”

Diamond’s younger sister Faith Simeona-Agoo recalled happier times growing up in Nanakuli in a large seven-bedroom house. “She was always a happy person, always had a smile on her face, she was loved by so many people,” she said.

But Diamond had struggled with mental illness since she was about 19, and also used methamphetamine, “and she would change when she started doing drugs,” Faith Simeona-Agoo said.

In recent years she cycled between a Honolulu residential mental health facility, the Sand Island Treatment Center for drug treatment, and jail.

She was jailed again about three months ago to await trial on a robbery charge, and when she called home, she would say “that she’s scared, that the ACOs were picking on her and treating her wrong.”

Diamond also claimed that her requests for medical care were being denied, and she threatened to kill herself, Simeona said.

Family members now say they doubt the official account of what happened to Simeona-Agoo at OCCC, and they want an outside inquiry into her death.

Schwartz declined to provide any further details about the case, citing medical privacy requirements.

Staff at the Maui Community Correctional Center reported an inmate named Jonathan Pico committed suicide there on June 8, which was apparently the fifth suicide at MCCC in five years.

When asked if the corrections officials see a need to revamp their suicide prevention procedures, Schwartz said in a written statement that the department “has sound policy for the care and custody of inmates with mental illness.”

“The Department’s Suicide Prevention and Detection program emphasizes staff training, intake screening, appropriate classification/safe housing, ongoing assessment through frequent observation, prompt intervention, and direct interaction between staff and inmates,” according to the statement. “The Department routinely reviews and updates all policies including the inmate suicide prevention policy which is in accord with national standards.”

However, the department has been criticized in at least one other case for failing to follow its own suicide prevention procedures. That case involved the death of Joseph O’Malley, who hanged himself at Halawa Correctional Facility in 2017. A lawsuit in that case resulted in a $1.375 million judgment against the state.

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