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Suicide prevention in correctional facilities: Reflections and next steps

Lindsay M. Hayes

International Journal of Law and Psychiatry

Available online 9 May 2013

 

Abstract

Data from a recent national study of inmate suicides indicates that the suicide rate in county jails throughout the United States has steadily decreased. Despite this progress, the author argues that rather than developing and maintaining comprehensive policies and practices, policymakers and correctional administrators appear preoccupied with the notion that suicides can only be prevented when inmates are on suicide precautions. Measures such as closed-circuit television monitoring, suicide-resistant jail cells, safety smocks, and new technology are popular tools to keep certain inmates safe. There is more to suicide prevention than simply observing suicidal inmates and waiting for them to attempt suicide. The author argues that suicides are prevented and suicide rates reduced when correctional facilities provide a comprehensive array of programming that identifies suicidal inmates who are otherwise difficult to identify, ensures their safety on suicide precautions, and provides a continuity of care throughout confinement.

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