Mother of inmate who committed suicide speaks out about mental health treatment at SLO County Jail

Posted at 7:24 PM, Sep 18, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-07 16:39:16-05

The family of an inmate who recently died at the San Luis Obispo County Jail is speaking out.

Earlier this month, Michael Nonella killed himself while in a single jail cell soon after he was reportedly taken off suicide watch.

Now, Nonella’s mother, Judy, wants answers.

Judy Nonella says she would talk with her son whenever he was behind bars, which was often for the troubled Arroyo Grande man who spent his life in and out of jail.

“This last time, in particular, he was not in a good place,” Nonella said.

Michael had been in custody since July 25 for violating his post-release supervision.

Over the phone, Judy Nonella said her son complained about headaches and that he was having a manic episode.

She went to the jail to deliver eye drops and speak with the medical team.

“And I told her, I said, ‘He’s in a bad way, he has an extremely bad headache.’ I said, ‘He’s confused and he’s panicking and he really needs help,’ and she said she’d check on that, too, and of course I had him call me and they did give him drops and I don’t remember if they checked on him or not,” Nonella told KSBY News.

Judy says she found out after her son’s death that he was on suicide watch but was removed from it. He later died while in a single cell from an apparent suicide.

“They knew he had sheets and pillowcases in there. He had already tried it with his shirt,” Nonella said. “They handed him a loaded gun. They handed him the materials he used to try to kill himself and walk away.”

This mother’s cry for help, she says, was swept under the rug.

“Did you ask why they took him off suicide watch?” asked KSBY News anchor Scott Daniels.

“I asked many questions and I just get the same runaround,” Nonella answered.

KSBY News reached out to the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office for a statement and they referred us to the county counsel. The county counsel said it would not provide further information at this time.