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Suicide Prevention in Corrections

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Incarcerated individuals are three times more likely to commit suicide that those in the community.  This is due to the incarcerated populations’ demographics; their decreased ability to cope with the day-to-day stresses of incarceration; the facility’s lack of sufficient staff or staff training in suicide prevention; and the lack of access to Mental Health professionals and treatment.  “National Study of Jail Suicide: 20 Years Later”, a study released in May of 2010 by the National Institute of Corrections, reports that the profile of inmates who commit suicide in detention facilities has changed.  Currently pretrial inmates who commit suicide in detention facilities are male, 30-35 years old, married, arrested for a personal or violent offense with a history of substance abuse.  Most were not intoxicated upon entry into the system and more than a third have a history of mental illness or past suicide attempts.  Suicides occurred equally within the first 24 hours, between 2 and 14 days, between 1 and 4 months and after 4 months of incarceration.  Sentenced inmates who commit suicide in prison are generally 30 – 35 years old and are violent offenders.  They usually commit suicide after 3-5 years of incarceration.  Both situational and psychosocial risk factors impact upon an individual’s decision to commit suicide.