National Institute of Corrections
You are not signed in! To post comments and participate in discussions you need to sign in or create a free account.
National Study of Jail Suicide: 20 Years Later
National Jail Exchange

Subscribe (RSS)

Lindsay M. Hayes is the author of National Study of Jail Suicides: 20 Years Lateravailable for download from the NIC website.


jail suicide

Introducing a shorter summary of the study's findings, Hayes writes:

Suicide continues to be a leading cause of death in jails across the country and the rate of suicide in county jails is estimated to be several times greater than that of the general population. In September, 2006, the National Center on Institutions and Alternatives (NCIA) entered into a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Justice Department's National Institute of Corrections to conduct a national study on jail suicides that would determine the extent and distribution of inmate suicides in local jails (i.e., city, county, and police department facilities), as well as gather descriptive data on demographic characteristics of each victim, characteristics of the incident, and characteristics of the jail facility which sustained the suicide. The study, a follow-up to a similar national survey conducted by NCIA 20 years earlier in 1986, would result in a report of the findings to be utilized as a resource tool for both jail personnel in expanding their knowledge base, and correctional (as well as mental health and medical) administrators in creating and/or revising policies and training curricula on suicide prevention.

Released in May 2010, the study resulted in the identification of 696 jail suicides during the 2005 and 2006, with 612 deaths occurring in detention facilities (housing individuals for more than 72 hours) and 84 in holding facilities (housing individuals for less than 72 hours).

Among its other findings, the study documented an "extraordinary" drop in jail suicides over the 20-year period. The suicide rate in detention facilities during 2006 was calculated at 38 deaths per 100,000 inmates, or about three times greater than suicide rates in the general U.S. population. However, it represents a drop of nearly two-thirds compared to the original study in 1986, when the suicide rate was calculated at 107 suicides per 100,000 inmates. Hayes discusses some possible reasons for the drop. The data, he suggests, put to rest the "antiquated mindset that inmate suicides cannot be prevented."

Click the link below to read Hayes's summary of the study findings, highlighting significant changes over time in suicide incidence in jails

Posted Tue, Mar 22 2011 11:29 AM by Susan Powell


Be the first to comment on this article!
You must sign in or create an account to comment.
Brought to you by:
National Institute of Corrections
U.S. Dept. of Justice | 320 First Street | Washington, DC 20534 | 800.995.6423

This blog is funded by a contract from the National Institute of Corrections, U.S. Department of Justice. Points of view or opinions stated in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.