Records Show Arizona Inmate Begged For Medical Treatment Before Death By Suicide

By Jimmy Jenkins
Published: Monday, September 28, 2020 - 4:03pm
Updated: Tuesday, September 29, 2020 - 8:24am

Tracie Otero and her brother Joseph Vidiola
Otero family
Tracie Otero and her brother Joseph Vidiola.

Medical records obtained by KJZZ show an inmate at the state women's prison repeatedly requested a diagnosis and treatment for severe pain before she died by suicide last week. 

Tracie Otero contacted KJZZ in August saying she was in immense pain and was considering taking her life.

"This pain that I have is unbearable," Otero wrote on Aug. 13. "The pain got so bad a few weeks ago that I wanted to commit suicide."

Otero claimed she had asked to be seen by a doctor but was refused, after a registered nurse failed to diagnose her.

Jimmy Jenkins/KJZZ

Otero wrote similar letters to her family, asking for help. "I'm ready to hang myself and I'm not joking," she wrote to her mother. "I'm in severe pain. I feel like someone poured gasoline all over my body."

Family of Tracie Otero

Medical records obtained by KJZZ showed Otero had requested a diagnosis and treatment for severe pain repeatedly since May. 

"Even the hairs on my head hurt, or when my clothes touch my body," Otero wrote to Arizona Department of Corrections medical staff on July 11. "This is horrifying pain."

On Sept. 12, she said "I can no longer deal with this pain."

Ten days later, Otero died by suicide.

The Department of Corrections reports finding her hanging in her living area and she was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

Otero's daughter, Farrah Otero, said the department had abandoned her mother.

"They should have tended to her medical needs," she said. "I just can't imagine the kind of pain she must have been in to take her own life."

Tracie Otero's brother, Joseph Vindiola, says the family is planning on pursuing legal action against the Department of Corrections.

“We are entirely heartbroken," Vindiola said. "This is an atrocity. A needless death occurred because of their lack of care and concern for this human being.”

Otero is the third inmate in Arizona state prisons to die by suicide in just four weeks.

The Department of Corrections declined to discuss Otero's medical treatment, citing HIPAA concerns. In a statement, Department of Corrections spokesman Bill Lamoreaux said the Department’s Inspector General Office is conducting an investigation "as with all inmate deaths."

Arizona Prisons