Year: 2016 Source: Crisis.(2015).36(2):110-116. DOI:10.1027/0227-5910/a000302 SIEC No: 20150547

Suicide is the leading cause of death in Swiss prisons. The Federal Statistics Office provides numbers but no further details. Previous studies worldwide have focused on identifying suicide risk factors in prisoners, but very few have looked at the methods used in relation to prevention strategies. Aims: To obtain details of Swiss prison suicides, determine new findings in an international context, and establish prevention strategies based on the information acquired. Method: Retrospective data analysis of prison suicides extracted from the database of all suicides investigated by Swiss institutes of legal medicine between 2000 and 2010, using a standardized assessment sheet. Results: Out of 4,885 suicides investigated in the institutes of legal medicine in Switzerland, we identified 50 (1.02%) inmate suicides. Most were unmarried Swiss men, with a median age of 32 years. The two most common methods used were hanging and tricyclic antidepressant overdose. Two died due to self-immolation. Conclusion: Swiss prison suicides do not differ from those in other countries regarding sociodemographic details and the most common method of hanging. Anchoring devices, even low ones, should be avoided to prevent hanging and medication intake should be monitored. As prisoners use tricyclic antidepressants to die by suicide, we recommend the general monitoring of intake.