Preventing Suicide in Jails and Prisons: Suggestions from Experience with Psychiatric Inpatients

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Abstract:

Abstract: 

Both among psychiatric inpatients and inmates of prisons and jails, suicide is highly prevalent with alarming rates. In many countries, there has been a call for action to prevent such deaths and to educate staff in the early recognition of suicide risk. A careful MedLine search was used to identify relevant papers dealing with suicide prevention in psychiatric inpatients. This paper reviews this research and the policy recommendations that have been developed for psychiatric hospitals in order to reduce the incidence of suicide in their patients. Results derived from this search indicated that these policy recommendations can be applied to suicide prevention in correctional settings, and it is argued that suicide prevention programs in correctional settings can benefit from the research conducted and the policy recommendations for suicide prevention in psychiatric facilities. In conclusion, the best practices for preventing suicides in jail and prison settings should include the following elements: training programs, screening procedures, communication between staff, documentation, internal resources, and debriefing after a suicide.

Keywords: forensic psychiatry; forensic science; inpatients; prevention; prison staff; prisoners; suicide

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1556-4029.2009.01122.x

Affiliations: 1: The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, Pomona, NJ. 2: Universit√† Europea di Roma, Rome, Italy. 3: Department of Psychiatry, Sant’Andrea Hospital, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy.

Publication date: September 1, 2009

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