BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A new inmate mental health program created by the Kern County Sheriff’s Office in October 2020 is already seeing success in reducing suicide attempts.

The department said the goal of the Inmate Stabilization and Assessment Team is to increase medical and mental health oversight at the Lerdo Jail and provide better access to mental health services for inmates.

KCSO said 89 inmates are participating in the program. Prior to the implementation of the ISAT, the department said there were 49 suicide attempts between January and October, of which four were successful

Since the program began through June, there have only been 24 attempts, according to the department. None of the attempts were successful.

“We’ve had a decrease in the number of suicide watches we have going on and fortunately we haven’t had any serious suicide attempts,” said Detentions Senior Deputy Patrick McNeill. “I think that’s the biggest measurement of success, and overall the inmates seem to be in a better place when I’m dealing with them on a daily basis.”

KCSO said a position was created to serve as an advocate for inmates with mental health issues. Deputy McNeill was assigned to the position.

“They need an advocate, they need a deputy who can look out for them if they can’t look out for themselves and make sure that their treatment is being properly handed out,” said Commander Mark Warren.