Suicide in Prison
“Suicide is a huge, but largely preventable, public health problem, causing almost half of all violent death in the world, resulting in almost one million fatalities every year and economic costs in the billions of dollars, according to the World Health Organization” (quoted in Pompili & Lester & Innamorati & Casale & Girardi, 2009,1155). According to Kupers (quoted in Heuy & Mculty, 2005, 490) “in the United States, suicide rates among prison inmates are higher than in the general population and suicide accounts for more than half of all deaths in custody”. The “rates of suicide…within prisoner populations have generally increased over the past few decades” (Perry & Olason, 2009, 385). Unfortunately, “there is not just more suicidality within the institutions but more people who are imprisoned show suicidal thoughts and behavior throughout the course of their lives”, according to Jenkins ( quoted in Konrad&, Daigle&, Daniel & Dear & Frottier, 2007,114 ). Identifying key risk factors and proper assessment of high-risk offenders will contribute to the “Understanding [of] the process by which certain prisoners, under certain circumstances, contemplate, plan, and decide to end their lives [which] is critical to suicide prevention” (Bonner, 2006, 250). Improving prison conditions along with “increasing the provision and participation of inmates in rehabilitation, education, and work skills training programs” (Heuy & Mculty, 2005, 508) will aid the United States toward decreasing prison suicide rates and bettering the health of inmates. Summarization of Article
A qualitative study was conducted throughout six state prison facilities in Oregon with the purpose “to study dynamic variables by examining the experiences of 24 inmates who attempted suicide in prison” (Suto & Arnaut, 2010, 1). By focusing on these “dynamic variables”, this study differentiates from “existing research on prison suicides [which] has been criticized for focusing on static variables such as demographics” (Suto & Arnaut, 2010, 1). Aiming to provide understanding of the participants, interviews were conducted to project the experience of the inmate and to further “contribute to the knowledge base about factors associated with suicide in prison” (Suto & Arnaut, 2010, 290). After analyzing the interviews using Lieblich’s holistic-content perspective (quoted in Suto & Arnaut, 2010, 293), “three categories with several themes and subthemes emerged in the study of reasons leading up to the suicide attempts: mental health issues, relationship issues, and prison factors (Suto & Arnaut, 2010, 293). Within the category of mental health issues, “depressive symptoms [were] consistently reported across almost all participants” (Suto & Arnaut, 2010, 302-303). Included in the theme of depressive symptoms, “5 subthemes were identified” (Suto & Arnaut, 2010, 294). “Low mood” and depressive thoughts were expressed by the participants prior to their suicide attempts (Suto & Arnaut, 2010, 295). “Several participants reported feelings of loneliness were a significant factor in their suicide attempts” (Suto & Arnaut, 2010, 296) along with “feelings of hopelessness”, was also experienced by a large number of participants (Suto & Arnaut, 2010, 295). Lastly, “feelings of guilt and shame related to crime… haunted them so badly that it contributed to their suicidal ideation” (Suto & Arnaut, 2010, 296). Along with depressive symptoms, inmates conveyed “symptoms of anxiety” (Suto & Arnaut, 2010, 296) and “hallucination and/or paranoid ideation” (Suto & Arnaut, 2010, 296) that contributed to their suicide attempts. Impulsivity and religious beliefs were recognized across participants as a role in their suicide attempts as well (Suto & Arnaut, 2010, 297). Failures and problems of relationships with people outside of the prison like their family and/or partners were identified by many participants that contributed to their depression and...
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