The impact of trauma, substance abuse, and psychiatric illness on suicidal and self-harm behaviours in a cohort of migrant detainees: An observational, prospective study

Background: According to the WHO, detainees attempt suicide ten times more than the general population. Aims: To investigate the impact of migration trauma on Suicidal and Self-Harm Behaviours (SSHB) of migrants in jail and to explore how substance use and other psychiatric features affect this relationship. Methods: Prospective cohort study, conducted at the ‘Sant’Anna’ jail […]

Identifying individuals at risk of suicide and self-harm in jail

Suicide is the leading cause of death in America’s jails and the rate of suicide is nearly three times higher in jails than in prisons or the general public. Fatal suicides represent a small proportion of individuals who threaten or attempt suicide while incarcerated, or otherwise engage in serious self-harm. Yet, there is little research […]

Multidimensional approach to suicide prevention in jails and prisons: The best defense against liability lawsuits

Inmates in jails and prisons are a high-risk group for suicide. Often, legal claims of medical negligence and §1983 based on deliberate indifference by the correctional officials follow. Unique stable and dynamic factors and circumstances and their interaction explain most suicides. A systematic suicide screening using a well-designed suicide screening questionnaire that captures known risk […]

Correctional work: Reflections regarding suicide.

: The Public Health Agency of Canada declared suicide a public health problem in Canada (2016). Employees working in correctional services, researchers find, experience high rates of lifetime suicidal ideation in comparison to other public safety professionals and the general population. Suicide behaviours (i.e., ideation, planning, attempts, death) are a multifactorial phenomenon, explained in part […]

Preventing suicide in jails and prisons

Suicide is often the single most common cause of death in correctional settings. Jails, prisons and penitentiaries are responsible for protecting the health and safety of their inmate populations, and the failure to do so, can be open to legal challenge. Further fuelled by media interest, a suicide in correctional facility can easily escalate into […]

Differences between inmates who attempt suicide and who die by suicide: Staff-identified psychological and treatment-related risk factors

Suicidal behavior occurs at much higher rates in correctional facilities than in the community, yet little is known about factors that distinguish inmates at risk for attempting versus dying by suicide. Individuals in the current study included 925 inmates housed in 2 large U.S. jails and 8 state correctional systems who attempted (79.5%) or died […]

Rational psychiatric care of jail inmates: It happened in Monterey.

This column describes a civil rights lawsuit over the conditions in the Monterey County, California, jail that resulted in a court order to make substantial reforms. The remarkable feature of the case was the partiesÕ willingness to use neutral experts to assess the facilityÕs deficiencies in general medical and mental health care, safety, and disability […]

Suicide prevention in correctional facilities: Reflections and next steps.


National study of jail suicide: 20 years later.

Findings from a national study of jail suicide are provided, including the extent and distribution of suicides in holding and detention facilities, and descriptive data on demographic characteristics of each victim, incident, and facility. Among significant findings are that suicides were evenly distributed from first few days of confinement to over several months of confinement, […]

Deaths in New York City jails, 2001-2009.


Suicide within United States jails: a qualitative interpretive meta-synthesis.

Suicide was the leading cause of unnatural deaths in local jails, accounting for 29% of all jail deaths between 2000 and 2007. Though much literature exists on suicide in jails, very little is qualitative. Additionally, little attention has been focused on how the Interpersonal Theory of Suicide applies to the jail environment. To gain a […]

Variables associated with repeated suicide attempt in a criminal justice population.


Suicide in Correctional Facilities

This paper addresses suicide prevention, a problem that administrators in correctional facilities face on a daily basis. This policy paper analyzes the problem in depth by examining 2 alternative policies. The first is the Hayes et al 1995 report on the Elayn Hunt Correctional Center Suicide Prevention Plan. The second is a 1991 article by […]

Suicide in Jails and Prisons

This bulletin discusses suicide prevention in jails & prisons. Risk factors are outlined & prevention procedures are delineated, including: intake screening, post-intake observation & monitoring, management following intake screening, & physical environment & architecture. It is concluded the policies & procedures to prevent inmate suicide must blend security & medical responses in order to be […]

Traumatic Life Events and Suicide Risk Among Jail Inmates: the Influence of Types of Events, Time Period and Significant Others

Relationships between traumatic life events & suicide risk were studied in 2 samples of jail inmates, 216 with low suicide risk & 51 with high suicide risk. Suicidal inmates reported a higher prevalence of traumatic life events, including more episodes of sexual abuse, physical maltreatment, emotional maltreatment, abandonment, & suicide attempts by significant others. They […]

Psychiatry Behind Bars: Practicing in Jails and Prisons

This article explains correctional facilities’ obligation to provide for inmates’ mental health needs & describes correctional mental health processes & how psychiatrists can play a role in screening, evaluation, & suicide prevention. (12 refs.) JA Contact us for a copy of this article, or view online at

Correctional Suicide: has Progress Ended?

In this editorial, the author discusses recent data from the American Bureau of Justice Statistics that suggests a point of diminishing progress in jail suicide prevention may have been reached. She reviews some of the factors that may be involved, including the passage of the Prison Litigation Reform Act. Prevention can be improved by addressing […]

Trouble in Mayberry: a National Analysis of Suicides and Attempts in Small Jails

This study examined the problem of suicides & attempted suicides in small jails, finding that the prevalence of these incidents is 2-5 times greater than in larger jails. Net of other factors, jails that had higher rates of admissions, as well as overcrowded facilities had a positive relationship with suicide attempts. It was also found […]

Suicide in Correctional Settings: Assessment, Prevention, and Professional Liability

This article reviews the suicide risk assessment procedure as it pertains to incarcerated individuals. Research on correctional suicide risk factors is briefly outlined as a prelude to discussing current methods of clinical suicide risk assessment & prevention in correctional settings. A comprehensive & reliable procedure for eliciting suicide ideation, behaviour, planning, desire, & intent is […]

Characteristics and Effects of Suicide Prevention Programs: Comparison Between Workplace and Other Settings

The study reviewed the literature on suicide prevention programs in the workplace, schools, community, medical facilities, jail, & the army by conducting a search of all articles published between 1967-November 2007. From a total of 256 articles, contents of suicide prevention programs & were determined. In 34 studies, the effect of programs was evaluated. Findings […]

Correctional Service of Canada’s Response to Deaths in Custody: Final Assessment

This assessment presents 9 case summaries of deaths in custody that occurred between April 2008-April 2010. The cases were purposefully selected as they highlight significant &, in many instances, recurring patterns & themes. They illustrate the complexity of the challenges facing the Correctional Service of Canada in preserving life in a correctional context. Each case […]

Juvenile Offender Suicide: Prevalence, Risk Factors, Assessment, and Crisis Intervention Protocols

This article describes the extent of juvenile offender suicide & protocols for intervening with this high-risk population. Procedures for crisis intervention are recommended & the step-by-step sequential Roberts’ 7 Stage Crisis Assessment & Crisis Intervention model is delineated & discussed. The article concludes with an examination of the extent to which suicide assessment & prevention […]

Suicide Following Arrest and Lockup

This article focuses on suicide in jails following arrest & lockup. The paper begins with a description of suicide patterns in jails & prisons, followed by a discussion of the experience of arrest & incarceration. Other topics discussed include: negligence, deliberate indifference, punishment, & foreseeability; case law from the United States; & recomendations related to […]