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National Study of Jail Suicide: 20 Years Later

NCJ Number
Lindsay M. Hayes
Date Published
April 2010
85 pages
This report, presents comprehensive and updated information on the status of suicides in jails around the country.
This report presents the results of a survey of jail suicides conducted as a follow-up to a 1986 survey. The study found that in 2006, the suicide rate in detention facilities across the country 36 deaths per 100,000 inmates, a dramatic decrease from the 1986 rate of 107 suicides per 100,000 inmates. Another major finding of the study was the substantial change in the demographic characteristics of the inmates who committed suicide: an increase in the number of suicide victims who were held on personal and/or violent charges as opposed to minor offenses; a decrease in the number of suicide victims who were intoxicated; an increase in the number of suicides that occurred between 2 to 14 days after confinement; and a finding that those inmates who committed suicide were less likely to held in isolation than previously reported. The survey also found that more jails that experienced inmate suicides had both an intake screening process for identifying inmates at risk of suicide and substantial written suicide prevention policies. This report is divided into five chapters: Chapter 1 - Introduction; Chapter 2 - National Study of Jail Suicides: 20 Years Later; Chapter 3 - Demographic Findings of Jail Suicide Data; Chapter 4 - Special Considerations; and Chapter 5 - Conclusions. Recommendations in the areas of comprehensive suicide prevention programming, staff training, and future research efforts are also discussed. Two appendixes at the end of the report include the National Study of Jail Suicides Survey and the National Study of Jail Suicides Questionnaire. Tables and references