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Juvenile Justice - Mental Health/Substance Abuse

Identifying suicide risk among young people is a critical component of the comprehensive approach that the juvenile justice system must adopt to prevent suicide. Ideally, this identification is done with research-based screening and assessment instruments. To select effective instruments, it is necessary to be aware of the juvenile justice system’s responsibilities in preventing suicide, the contexts in which screening and assessment instruments are used, current standards for screening instruments and assessment tools used in mental health and juvenile justice settings, and specific instruments that are available to advance suicide prevention efforts. These facets of suicide prevention are explored in this paper (p. 1). Sections of this publication include: introduction; measuring suicide risk; screening and assessment procedures; current standards for instrument selection; four screening tools; five assessment tools; implementation of suicide risk screening and assessment; and conclusion.

Screening and Assessment for Suicide Prevention: Tools and Procedures for Risk Identification among Juvenile Justice Youth Cover

If you work with justice-involved juvenile, you need to read this bulletin. "Incarcerated youth die by suicide at a rate two to three times higher than that of youth in the general population. In this bulletin, the authors examine suicidal thoughts and behaviors among 1,829 youth ages 10 to 18 in the Northwestern Juvenile Project—a longitudinal study of youth detained at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center in Chicago, IL (p. 1). Findings are presented for: hopelessness; thoughts about death and dying; thoughts about suicide; suicide plan; telling someone about suicidal thoughts; suicide attempts; and psychiatric disorders that may increase the odds of suicide attempts. Additional discussion concerns demographic characteristics and suicide risk, and psychiatric disorders and suicide risk. Based on the results, detention facilities need to systematically screen juveniles for suicide risk within 24 hours of arrival if not sooner, and increase the availability of psychiatric services.

Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviors Among Detained Youth Cover

While mental health problems are generally not risk factors for criminal behavior according to the risk-needs-responsivity (RNR) framework of correctional psychology practice, prevalence rates are very high and RNR principles suggest that mental health as a responsivity variable may moderate the success of interventions targeted to criminogenic needs. In this study we investigated the relationships among mental health status, criminogenic needs treatment, and recidivism in … youth referred for court-ordered assessments and followed through their community supervision sentence (probation). Youth with mental health needs were no more likely than youth without these needs to reoffend, regardless of whether those needs were treated … youth who had a greater proportion of criminogenic needs targeted through appropriate services were less likely to reoffend, regardless of mental health status (p. 55).

Youth in Juvenile Hall are often at a critical crisis point. By the time a youth reaches Juvenile Hall, they have often been metaphorically “screaming for help” for a very long time. In other words, it may be that no one is paying attention to the family’s challenges and dysfunctions, the youth’s trauma or emotional pain or serious learning disability. Often the youth enters Juvenile Hall without even knowing that they have been “trying to get attention” because their problems are long past the healthy time of grieving, are overwhelming, and no longer recognizable as a problem, but are experienced as a way of life (p. 1). This guide helps to describe these problems. Sections illustrate and explain: using one column of Mental Health Descriptions (Behaviors That May Be of Concern to Mental Health) and one column of Corresponding Juvenile Justice Descriptions covering Oral, Physical, Self-Preservation, and Commonly known Behaviors of Concern, Sexual; Behaviors that by themselves with none of the above are Oppositional / Defiant; Information Mental Health Needs/Questions Mental Health Will Have; and Juvenile Justice Best Practices.

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