Year: 2022 Source: Corrections. (2022). DOI: 10.1080/23774657.2022.2031350 SIEC No: 20220087

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 to date on the risk factors for jail detainees engaging in suicidal and/or self-harm behavior while incarcerated. Using logistic regression, we examine the risks factors for attempting and threatening suicide and/or self-harm during incarceration using a mixed-sex sample of 736 individuals incarcerated in a large metropolitan jail in the Midwest using the lens of the Interpersonal Theory of Suicide (ITS). We found support for ITS, as individuals with higher perceived burdensomeness and thwarted
belongingness were more likely to attempt and/or threaten suicide and self-harm. Among the measures that proxied the belongingness-burdensomeness construct – mental health issues, drug dependence, direct and indirect victimization in jail, and psychological distress – were all associated with higher odds of threatening or attempting suicide and self-harm. We discuss the need for future research on suicidality and serious self-harm in jail, as well as recommendations for managing those most at-risk.