Cobb County Sheriff Urges Increased Support for Mental Health Services -- Offers Condolences to Families of Recently Deceased
MARIETTA, GA. — Cobb County Sheriff Craig Owens offers his condolences to the family of two detainees who recently died by apparent suicide.
The Cobb County Sheriff’s Office announced that detainee Augustus Green, age 19, passed at 10:40 p.m. on Saturday, June 17. Detainee William Lopez, age 17, passed at 8:48 a.m. on Tuesday, June 20.
“First, I want to extend my personal and deepest condolences to the families of Messrs. Green and Lopez,” said Owens. “My administration is centered around recognizing the humanity of all in our custody and care.”
“It breaks my heart that we lost two young men,” added Owens. “We are leaning even more heavily on our community partners and will seek assistance from the State to both increase our number of close observation beds and to streamline the process for referring detainees to outside service providers so they can get all of the services that will benefit them and aid in preventing suicides.”
The Cobb County Sheriff’s Office has gained a reputation for its commitment to mental health services. Under Owens, the Office has aggressively increased funding for mental health services for detainees, including providing 24/7 access to mental health support. The agency recently became the first in Georgia and only one of two nationally to implement the latest body camera technology, which allows for two-way communication between a person who is having a mental health episode and a mental health provider. Sheriff Owens is continuing to review policies and seek out programs to provide detainees with the emotional and medical support they need.
“As NAMI for Cobb, we understand the feeling of loss by this tragedy,” said Peter M. Lyons, president of NAMI Cobb. “We intend to continue working very closely with Sheriff Owens to prevent future tragedies because we are aware that our youth are in a mental health epidemic. The data and statistics tell us that. Our children are telling us that through the yearly Department of Education mental health school surveys.”
The Cobb County Adult Detention Center’s 32-bed unit that houses individuals under close observation is routinely at capacity. Numerous scientific studies have shown a sharp increase in mental health conditions across the country, with even higher numbers for those in the justice system.
For example, according to a Gallup poll released on May 17 of this year, depression rates are rising fastest among Black and Hispanic individuals. The data is even more pronounced for individuals of all races who are under 30 and have lower incomes.
Friends and loved ones of detainees who have expressed thoughts of suicide or depression should immediately call the Adult Detention Center Watch Commander at (770) 499-4212 so that staff can notify medical professionals.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 70% of youth in the juvenile justice system have a diagnosable mental health condition. Young people in detention are more likely to suffer from psychosis.
NAMI Georgia offers a free, weekly support group for Cobb and metro Atlanta families who have an incarcerated loved one experiencing mental health challenges. The group meets online Tuesdays from 7-8:30 p.m. Families interested in participating can email
For more information about suicide and mental health rates, please visit the website for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) at: https://namiga.org/. For information specifically on preventing and reducing suicide, please visit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention website at: https://afsp.org/.
About the Cobb County Sheriff's Office: The Cobb County Sheriff’s Office is a law enforcement agency that executes a broad range of services which include but are not limited to Jail Operations, Court Security, Criminal Warrant Execution, Civil Process Service, Mental Health Transports, Forgery/Fraud Investigation, and Fugitive Investigation and Apprehension. Sheriff Craig Owens took over the office on Jan. 1, 2021, and leads a staff of more than 800 deputies and civilians. Under his leadership, the Sheriff’s Office has the most diverse command staff in its nearly 200-year history and is on the path to becoming the best law enforcement agency in the State of Georgia. To learn more about the Cobb County Sheriff's Office, visit https://www.cobbsheriff.org/. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Download the Cobb County Sheriff's Office App!