A Council Bluffs man died Wednesday evening at the Pottawattamie County Jail.
Shawnessey McKnight, 43, was being held on federal charges of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and counterfeiting, Sheriff Jeff Danker said.
Around 6:30 p.m. staff handed out razors for inmates to shave, as they do a few times per week, Danker said. Inmates have the razor for 15 minutes before guards return to collect them.
McKnight was locked in his individual cell, part of a pod with another prisoner, and broke the razor to access the blade. McKnight cut his neck on both sides and then started doing pushups to pump the blood out faster, Danker said.
The other inmate in the cell alerted detention officers who, along with jail nursing staff, attempted to administer aid. McKnight was uncooperative and eventually had to be shackled.
"He fought them the whole time," Danker said.
Council Bluffs Rescue transported the inmate to Alegent Creighton Health Mercy Hospital, where he later died.
Danker said staff is trained to look for suicidal tendencies in inmates and have a special observation area for those who appear ready to hurt themselves, but with McKnight there was no indication.
"With a jail, you're always on alert, you try to determine if people are suicidal," Danker said. "It's tough. Jail staff, their goal is to keep people safe in here, even when they want to harm themselves. They may be incarcerated, but we want them to be safe.
"The nursing staff worked hard, they did everything they could to save him. It's very tragic when someone loses their life. We did everything we could."