In a Monday statement the ministry says that Chen used a towel to try to kill himself in Taichung prison in central Taiwan. It did not elaborate on how the towel was employed.
The statement says the attempt was made Sunday night and that Chen was stopped by guards in a prison bathroom. It says that he is now in stable condition.
The 62 year-old Chen is serving a 20-year sentence for corruption offences committed during his 2000-2008 presidential tenure.