Year: 2007 Source: The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, v.52, no.9, (September 2007), p.591-597 SIEC No: 20070719

Objective: Self-injurious behaviours (SIBs) are widespread among prisoners and are sometimes classified as potentially calculated acts intended to control others. Access to a psychiatrist may be valued by imprisoned soldiers seeking immediate release from service. The main goal of the study was to assess the effects of a new mental health regulation in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) prison system, which requires ordering an immediate interview with a psychiatrist for inmates performing SIBs.

Method: Frequency of SIBs in 2 military prisons was examined and compared for 11 months before and 10 months after the implementation of the regulation. Severity of injuries and rates of release from service were examined for 4 months.

Results: The frequency of SIBs significantly increased after the implementation of the regulation in one prison, but not in the other. No effect was found for rate of release from service or for severity of injuries.

Conclusions: Increased accessibility to a psychiatrist for military prisoners may have resulted in increased motivation for inmates to perform SIBs. These effects are limited to the prison that serves a higher proportion of highly stressed soldiers.