Year: 2019 Source: International Journal of Forensic Mental Health. (2018). SIEC No: 20190151

Due to their complex mental health needs, female inmates comprise a particularly vulnerable group, at an elevated risk for suicide. Although suicidal ideation—the early stage in the trajectory towards suicidal behavior—represents a valid target for suicide prevention, there has been little research devoted to this outcome among female inmates. In order to address this void and to inform prevention efforts, the present study sought to investigate correlates of recent suicidal ideation among women incarcerated in Flanders, Belgium. A representative sample of prisoners (N = 123; aged 19–70 years) was randomly selected from all Flemish correctional facilities detaining female inmates, representing one in four incarcerated women throughout Belgium. Prevalence estimates for lifetime history of suicide ideation and attempts are 57.7% and 36.6%, respectively. Multivariate analysis indicates that women with recent suicidal ideation while incarcerated are significantly more likely than their non-suicidal peers to report a lifetime history of non-suicidal self-injury (aOR = 7.36), in-prison drug use (aOR = 4.72), and severe psychological distress (aOR = 3.14). The findings highlight the importance of providing adequate mental health services in prison, in order to address women’s unique needs and vulnerabilities, and consequently, to reduce suicide risk.