DCS asks TBI to review state youth facility suicides

The Department of Children Services has asked the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to review two recent deaths at the Mountain View Youth Development Center in Dandridge.

Rob Johnson, communications director for DCS, said they believe a student hanged himself in his dorm room Friday morning. Crews took the 18-year-old to Jefferson Memorial Hospital and then to the University of Tennessee Medical Center. He passed away Saturday evening.

Several weeks earlier, a 16-year-old student hanged himself and died the next day.

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DCS also asked the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth to join its investigation.

"We want to make sure that we take a complete look at the circumstances surrounding these tragic, heartbreaking incidents," said DCS Commission Jim Henry in a statement. "I appreciate the willingness of these two organizations to bring their insights and perspectives to these events. We want to do everything we possibly can to keep our youth safe and ensure that our programs are serving their needs."

The Dandridge Police Department is also investigating the deaths. DCS has its special investigations unit looking into whether these deaths involved abuse or neglect. DCS Internal Affairs Division is reviewing staff performance.

Counselors, therapists, and suicide-prevention experts have been available to assist students and staff members.

Mountain View currently houses 115 minors who have been ruled delinquent and placed in state custody.

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