A YEAR OF DISASTER AT OLD COLONY: SUICIDE ATTEMPTS, SELF-HARM, AND COVID
May 3, 2021
By Jean Trounstine
For Joseph Beatty, as for all of the men I heard from for this article, mental health services were drastically diminished at Old Colony Correctional Center (OCCC) in Bridgewater during the pandemic year.
On the afternoon of Feb. 24, 2021, instead of receiving treatment, Beatty was contemplating ending his life.
He was not in his cell on the residential treatment unit (RTU), nor was he talking idly in the dayroom or outside for recreation.
Beatty, who some called a haunted soul, was standing on the second tier of the RTU, approximately 15 feet above the ground. He was “out of place,” according to an incident report filed at OCCC.
Then, Beatty “suddenly shrugged his shoulders, took several large strides, grabbed the hand railing on the end of the tier and flipped himself over.”
Will Soper, who suffered from sexual, physical, and mental abuse before he came to the RTU, recounted, “At the time, I was by the kiosk machine where we put our canteen orders and I was talking to a couple of guys before I heard a scream.”
As Beatty fell, he landed on another prisoner. Yet, his head cracked open on the concrete and it bled profusely.