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  • suicide prevention

    critical for corrections specialists

    Suicide is

    except for death by natural causes the primary cause of death of offenders in correctional facilities

    correctional facilities have a

    legal and moral responsibility to do all they can to prevent suicide.

    what can be devastating to staff members

    when a prisoner kills himself or herself

    a suicide attempt is often seen as a

    cry for help

    prisoner due to their situation can become

    very depressed and consider suicide

    with exception to a riot suicide is

    the most serious event that can occur in a corrections facility

    Myth or fact:
    People who make suicidal statements or threaten suicide do not commit suicide

    myth. most people who commit suicide have made either a direct or indirect statement indicating intentions.

    myth or fact:
    People who attempt suicide have gotten it out of their system and will not attempt it again

    myth. 4 out of 5 people who kill themselves have made at least one attempt prior.

    Myth or fact:
    Suicidal people are intent on dying

    myth. Most suicidal people have mixed emotions about killing themselves. It is a myth that you cannot stop someone from killing themselves. most times they believe they have no other option

    asking an probing prisoners about suicidal thoughts or actions will cause them to kill themselves.

    myth, you cannot make someone suicidal.

    suicidal people are mentally ill

    myth not mentally ill, just depressed and un happy.

    the environment itself can influence

    a prisoner to commit suicide

    authoritarian environment

    avoid to recruit training indoctrination when receiving prisoners

    no apparent control over the future

    when prisoners experience feelings of hopelessness and helplessness


    no longer being able to be with family

    feelings of shame

    prisoners who have never been arrested may have feelings of shame

    dehumanizing aspects of incarceration

    factors due to lack of privacy, and inability to make personal choices

    insensitivity of workers

    insensitivity breeds contempt and fear. learn to control insensitive attitudes

    misconception of prison life

    preconceived notions about brigs in general

    predisposing factors

    personal and situational

    high risk periods

    initial, criminal, holidays, bad news, during hours of darkness, times of decreased staff supervision, and impending release

    warning signs and symptoms

    depression, physical and behavioral signs and changes


    useful for identifying potentially high-risk groups that may need further screening

    following characteristics of average suicide victim

    caucasian, hanging is preferred method, committed at midnight and during march, October, and November.
    history of mental health problems.
    sentence less than 10 years or more than 20 years are more likely to commit suicide.
    pretrial prisoners 20-25 years of age
    during a period of detox
    done when a prisoner has conflict with another prisoner.

    responding to suicide attempts

    sometimes despite your best efforts a suicide can occur.

    responding to a hanging victim

    most frequent method used in prison suicide attempts.

    summon assistance

    alert the control center by body alarm or radio. identify location and request back up support

    enter the cell

    approach the prisoner face to face

    lift the victim up

    lift up so their weight is no longer putting pressure on the noose.

    prevent further injury

    assume their is neck fracture or a spinal cord injury

    support the body

    brain damage can occur in 4 minutes and death within 5 to 6 minutes from hanging

    prevent excessive movement

    lower prisoner to the floor, don't allow prisoner to move

    perform CPR and first aid

    look listen and feel for breathing, make sure the airway is open

    document the incident

    do everything possible to save the prisoners life.

    how many procedures in the suicide crisis intervention model


    1. call for assistance

    alert other at the control center,
    identify the location and the situation,
    notify or have others notify your supervisor.

    2. contain the situation

    remove other prisoners from the area
    limit the prisoners movement to a manageable area
    control access to the area
    remove sources of danger

    3. get the prisoner talking

    do not lie, use posture and positioning and body language, respect space and stay 2 to 3 feet away,
    use interpersonal communication skills

    4. transfer control to appropriate personnel

    see the problem, identify specific options and resources, clarify expectations, the crisis is temporary, and willing to follow up personally

    5. use physical force only as a last resort

    try to gain cooperation. used as a last resort, use only the amount of force necessary

    6. document the incident

    use the 5 W's and H method, report orally and in writing
    use concrete language and provide key facts

    prevention methods

    err on caution, take all threats seriously, determine the intensity of prisoners stress, depression and impulsiveness, investigate potential, means, trust your judgement, abide by mental health staff recommendations.

    annotate on the

    DD form 509 Suicide watch companion

    maintain chronological record of the prisoners behavior

    and activities

    staff personnel will

    be located so that the prisoner can be easily observed and quickly accessed.

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