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This video presentation will enable readers to:

  • Understand the problem of jail suicide--rates of suicide in certain groups, the decrease in jail suicide rates, what makes jails risky environments, and challenges of prevention.
  • Describe suicide risk factors, warning signs, and suicide myths that increase ones risk.
  • Discuss intervention best practices--the qualities of a suicide prevention program (a written suicide prevention policy and a culture of prevention among others), the process of suicide prevention, the use of wise correctional techniques, emergency response, and practice, practice, practice. Lessons learned from two case studies and two legal cases are also covered.


Basics and Beyond Cover

Youth who come into contact with the juvenile justice system, especially those in residential facilities, have higher rates of suicide than their non-system-involved peers … Suicide prevention efforts by this system should begin at the initial point of entry and be coordinated to protect youth at every step along the way … This report addresses performance-based standards for juvenile correction and detention facilities and describes a comprehensive suicide prevention program for juvenile facilities (p. 1). The components that comprise this program need to include: training; identification, referral, and evaluation; communication; housing (safe environment); levels of observation, follow-up, and treatment planning; intervention (emergency response); reporting and notification; and mortality-morbidity review.

Guide to Developing and Revising Suicide Prevention Protocols for Youth in Contact with the Juvenile Justice System Cover

This report “does more than simply present a calculation of suicide rates. It presents the most comprehensive updated information on the extent and distribution of inmate suicides throughout the country, including data on the changing face of suicide victims. Most important, the study challenges both jail and health-care officials and their respective staffs to remain diligent in identifying and managing suicidal inmates” (p.vii). Five chapters follow an executive summary: introduction; national study of jail suicides—20 years later; demographic findings of suicide data; special considerations; and conclusion. The majority of victims (98%) used hanging as their method of suicide, with 32% of all suicides occurring between 3:01 P.M. and 9 P.M., 2 to 14 days following arrest (27%).

National Study of Jail Suicide: 20 Years Later Cover

“Today, the parents of 1 in every 50 children in the United States are in prison. 1 Over half of those parents are serving time for non-violent offenses.2 The gains in public safety benefits stemming from incarcerating a record number of parents are dubious, but the potential adverse consequences for children are clear. More than 40 percent of parents in prison lived with their children before they were sent to prison and half were the main source of financial support for their children.3 Sending parents to prison contributes to single-parent households, damages family ties, and exacerbates chronic childhood poverty” (p. 1).

Parents in State Prisons cover

Recommendations are presented for effectively preventing suicide among youth in the juvenile justice system. These can be successfully achieved through the combined collaboration of juvenile justice, law enforcement, mental health, substance abuse, child welfare, and education agencies and organizations. Sections of this report include: introduction; overview of 10 overarching priorities; overview of 12 strategies; overarching priorities and related strategies to improve collaboration in detail; "Matrix of Overarching Priorities and Strategies"; conclusion; and "Appendix A: Environmental Scanning Tool". "In recognition of the higher rate of suicide and suicidal behaviors among youth involved in the juvenile justice system who have mental health disorders, substance abuse disorders, and other relevant risk factors for suicide (e.g., a history of child sexual and physical abuse and other forms of trauma), it is urgent that all youth-serving systems effectively collaborate across all levels of government. This collaboration will likely save the lives of vulnerable youth by creating opportunities to intervene prior to the youth engaging in suicidal behavior and greatly enhance the provision of appropriate and effective supports and services. Implementing the strategies recommended in this paper will enable systems and practitioners to reduce the risk of youth suicide while achieving the collaborations necessary for sustained positive suicide prevention strategies" (p. 18).

Preventing Juvenile Suicide through Improved Collaboration: Strategies for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice Agencies Cover

This is the place to start if you are looking for information about preventing justice-involved youth from committing suicide. The summary provides a great introduction to the wealth of resources available from this Youth in Contact with the Juvenile Justice System Task Force. Sections comprising this publication include: introduction; background of and an overview of the resources from this Task Force; Public Awareness and Education Workgroup; Suicide Research Workgroup; Suicide Prevention Programming and Training Workgroup; Mental Health and Juvenile Justice Systems Collaboration Workgroup; and major findings from the above four workgroups.

Preventing Suicide: Working with Youth Who Are Justice Involved: Executive Summary Cover

This monograph presents a review of the literature and of national and state standards for prison suicide prevention, as well as national data on the incidence and rate of prison suicide, effective prevention programs, and discussion of liability issues. Topics also discussed include staff training, intake screening/assessment, housing, levels of supervision, intervention and administrative review. The document also examines the role of the courts in shaping prison suicide policy.

Prison Suicide: An Overview and Guide to Prevention Cover

Contents of these proceedings include: meeting highlights; "Cost Containment for Inmate Health Care" by Rebecca Craig; "Taming the Cost of Health Care in Detentions: What Works in San Diego County" by William Sparrow; "Confronting Costs for Medical Care: Open Forum Discussion"; "Increased Medical Costs: Managed Care and Private Contracts" by David Parrish and Dennis Williams; "Public Health and Jails: Challenges and Current Activities" by Roberto Hugh Potter and Dennis Andrews; "Succession Planning: Mentoring and Training Future Middle Managers" by Rocky Hewitt and Al Johnson; "Preventing Jail Suicides" by Jim Babcock; "Update on Large Jail Issues"; "Topics For the Next Large Jail Network Meeting" by Richard Geaither; meeting agenda; and participant list.

Proceedings of Cover

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

“Those who harm themselves while in solitary confinement may be diverted from that punitive setting to a therapeutic setting outside solitary confinement, which may provide an incentive for self-harm. The purpose of this analysis was to better understand the complex risk factors associated with self-harm and consider whether patients might be better served with innovative approaches to their behavioral issues” (p. 442). Self-harm is strongly linked to being in solitary confinement. “Inmates punished by solitary confinement were approximately 6.9 times as likely to commit acts of self-harm after we controlled for the length of jail stay, SMI [serious mental illness], age, and race/ethnicity. This association also held true for potentially fatal self-harm with a slightly lower OR [odds ratio], 6.3. It is notable that acts of self-harm often preceded the actual time spent in solitary confinement. Both SMI (OR = 7.97) and aged 18 years or younger (OR = 7.5) were also predictive of self-harm; nonetheless, the risk of self-harm and potentially fatal self-harm associated with solitary confinement was higher independent of mental illness status and age group” (p. 445).

Solitary Confinement and Risk of Self-harm Among Jail Inmates Cover


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