Serial arrestee threatens suicide
A District Court judge set a high cash bond Wednesday for a local homeless man whose increasingly odd behavior has landed him in jail four times in less than two months.
“If you are not in custody, you’re a danger to the community and, frankly, a danger to yourself,” District Judge Chris Seldin told Nicholas Olson. He ordered Olson held in lieu of a $10,000 cash-only bond.
For his part, Olson appeared to confirm Wednesday that he is in the throes of a serious mental-health crisis.
“I don’t care anymore,” he said in court during Wednesday’s advisement. “I’ve given up all hope.”
Seldin asked him if he was suffering from any mental-health issues.
“Yes, hopelessness,” Olson said. “I want to commit suicide now.”
Seldin noted that no one wanted to see Olson harm himself and that jail deputies, who were in the courtroom at the time, would take steps to ensure his safety based on his “ideas” about suicide.
Olson then interrupted him and said he wasn’t having “ideas.”
“I just want to die,” he said. “I just don’t want to do it myself.”
Olson made similar statements Sept. 11 when officers found him wandering naked downtown. He repeatedly spoke about a “glitch” in the universe and told officers no one wanted to help him, according to a police report.
“(An Aspen police sergeant) reminded Olson of the time he pulled Olson out of the river in an attempt to help him,” the report states. “Olson yelled, ‘I wanted to commit suicide’ and that he ‘wanted God to help him die faster.’”
Statements about suicide made in court generally will trigger a set of protocols with Mind Springs Health, which operates jail-based behavioral services at the Pitkin County Jail, said Roger Adams, Mind Springs case manager. In similar cases, crisis counselors would be called to the jail to determine the imminence of the threat, he said.
If the suicide threat is not imminent, the person would remain in jail, Adams said. If it is, the person could be sent to a psychiatric hospital for evaluation, he said.
“Absolutely, there’s a lot of help available to him,” Adams said.
Olson’s latest arrest occurred Monday when he allegedly stole a wallet from an Aspen hotel room and later was found to have powder in his possession that tested positive for heroin. However, a local police officer said the preliminary tests are often not reliable and that while black tar heroin is relatively common in town, white powdered heroin is extremely rare. Also, Olson said Wednesday in court he hadn’t taken any drugs before his latest arrest.
In addition to the arrest on suspicion of indecent exposure earlier this month, police arrested Olson in July and August on suspicion of methamphetamine possession.
Before those arrests, Olson’s previous contacts with law enforcement involved mostly minor and petty offenses associated with homelessness, Aspen prosecutor Sarah Talbott told Seldin on Wednesday.
“The situation appears to be escalating,” she said.
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Just in time for Halloween, the Pitkin County Board of Health voted 4-2 to reduce the size of informal gatherings from 10 to five for at least the next two weeks starting Friday. According to the public health director, officials are currently investigating 11 outbreaks in Pitkin County.