chapter  122
6 Pages

Suicide in Prisons

WithAmanda E. Perry

Internationally, suicide and self-harm (SH) behavior represents a major health problem. In 2013, the US overall crude rate of suicide across all ages was 13 per 100,000 of the population.1 In this same year, almost double the number of males between the ages of 20-35 committed suicide. In the prison environment this problem is exacerbated with rates between four and six times higher than that of the general population and up to eight times higher in newly released prisoners.2-4 In the US further distinctions between jails and prisons acknowledge higher rates of suicides in US jails; and this is generally attributed to the transient nature of the unsentenced population. Similar findings are reported where remand prisoners are compared to sentenced prisoners in UK prisons. Most recent evidence from the UK prison population has shown an increase in the suicide rate. The causes of this are generally speculative but may reflect the natural fluctuation in the prisoner population. With many prisoners at risk, implications for the criminal justice system (CJS) focus on the clinical utility of how prisoners are identified, their current risk factors, and the management of suicide and SH behavior of prisoners while in custody.