Police probe suicide at psych ward

UPMC McKeesport patient, 23, found with bag over her head, authorities report

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Allegheny County police are investigating the suicide of a patient in UPMC McKeesport last week, a spokesman for the county medical examiner's office said Monday.

A physician in the hospital pronounced Samantha Bokin, 23, of McKeesport, dead on the psychiatric floor in the hospital at 1:51 a.m. Wednesday.

She had a plastic bag over her head, according to the medical examiner's office, which ruled her death a suicide. The cause of death was asphyxiation.

County police could not be reached for comment Monday evening.

UPMC media relations director Gloria Kreps said the hospital is investigating the Aug. 21 death of a woman in the psychiatric unit.

Jack Bokin said Monday night his daughter had been hospitalized "to keep her safe." She had been diagnosed with depression and previously attempted suicide, he said.

Mr. Bokin said he and his wife were told conflicting accounts of their daughter's death by differing authorities.

About 2:05 a.m. Wednesday, the family was told Ms. Bokin had died.

When they first arrived, Mr. Bokin said, they were told Ms. Bokin was found on the floor, had turned blue and that a doctor had worked to revive her for about 25 minutes.

Several hours later, Mr. Bokin and his wife were told Ms. Bokin had been found with a bag over her head.

"How do you get a plastic bag into [a psychiatric unit]?" he said.

Ms. Kreps said via email Monday night, citing HIPAA and the Mental Health Procedures Act, that she was unable to provide information including the timeline in which the investigation is expected to be completed and how frequently hospital staff check on patients who have a history of suicidal thoughts.

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Liz Navratil: lnavratil@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1438 and on Twitter: @LizNavratil. Lexi Belculfine: lbelculfine@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1878 and on Twitter: @LexiBelc.


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