The Biddeford teenager who is accused of setting a deadly fire in downtown Biddeford tried to commit suicide Thursday morning by jumping from a stairwell in the York County Jail.

Dylan Collins, 18, who has been in custody since his arrest Nov. 7, threw himself from a second-floor landing at the jail, said York County Chief Deputy Sheriff William King.

“He went up the stairs and jumped off the stairs’ elevated landing,” King said. “He is going to live.”

Collins is accused of setting the Sept. 18 fire in an apartment building at 35 Main St. that killed James Ford, 21, and Michael Moore, 23, and displaced two dozen people who lived there. Moore died the day after the fire. Ford died a month later from infections brought on by the toxic chemicals in the smoke he inhaled.

“Collins is being held in a high-security unit that only allows inmates out of their cells for 90 minutes daily,” King said in a written statement Thursday afternoon. “Collins was out of his cell in the day room when he ascended the 15 stairs to the second-floor level, climbed the railing and jumped off. It appears he landed on his knees first before striking his face on the floor.”

Investigators measured the height of the stairway landing at 128 inches, or just over 10½ feet, King said.

There were two guards in the high-security unit when Collins jumped at 9:49 a.m. He was able to sit up after he landed, King said.

Collins’ mother, Donna Pitcher, said in a Facebook message that her son was taken to Maine Medical Center in Portland in critical condition.

By 2:30 p.m., a hospital representative, Matt Paul, said Collins’ condition had been upgraded to fair.

Collins’ attorney, Amy Fairfield, said she went to the jail to find out what happened, and King agreed to show her a security camera recording of Collins’ suicide attempt.

Fairfield said she does not know whether the jail had any prior indication that Collins was suicidal, but called his actions Thursday morning “very, very deliberate.”

“He circled one of the tables in the dayroom floor twice, and he purposefully walks up the stairs,” Fairfield said. “He just gets up to the top, goes left and puts his foot on the middle bar (of the railing) and puts his hands on the top bar and propels himself off the landing. There was no hesitation. That’s what was really frightening.”

Fairfield said she couldn’t tell from the video exactly where the guards were in the high-security unit at the time Collins jumped, but they “came running within seconds.”

King did not respond to a request for further details on whether Collins was under suicide watch at the time, and what the jail’s criteria are for placing an inmate under suicide watch.

Pitcher previously told the Portland Press Herald that she had called 911 several times this year because she was concerned about her son’s mental state, and Collins had been held for a monthlong psychological evaluation at Southern Maine Health Care in July. The hospital released him Aug. 28 after medical staff declined to seek a court order to have Collins committed to Riverview Psychiatric Center in Augusta.

Practices for placing inmates on suicide watch can vary depending on the jail.

At the Cumberland County Jail in Portland, for example, Anthony Pratt Jr. was put under suicide watch immediately after a jury found him guilty of murder Oct. 9, but neither Pratt nor his attorney, Peter Cyr, were told why. Pratt said in a letter to the Portland Press Herald that he had been mentally prepared to go on trial, and had prepared himself for a possible guilty verdict.

At Two Bridges Regional Jail in Wiscasset, decisions about whether an inmate should be placed on suicide watch are made based on questions asked during the intake process, Col. Mark Westrum said. If, after an inmate becomes part of the general jail population, a corrections officer becomes concerned that the inmate may pose a threat to himself, the officer notifies medical staff, which directs a mental health specialist to conduct another evaluation.

If an inmate is determined to be suicidal, he or she is placed in a special cell with an officer assigned to observe the person one-on-one. As the inmate’s condition improves, the level of supervision may drop, to the point that an officer may check on the inmate every 15 minutes or so, Westrum said.

Usually the inmate is eventually returned to the general population. A log alerts supervisors during each shift about inmates who have been under observation, so that special attention can be paid to them, Westrum said.

Staff Writer David Hench contributed to this report.