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Suicide rates within prisons, although not the leading cause of inmate deaths, are the leading cause of preventable deaths in a jail or prison setting. Inmates are particularly at risk during the first 24 hr under custody as they face the reality of incarceration (Hayes, 1995). Many inmates, especially those first incarcerated for felony cases, embody a sense of fear, isolation, distrust for everyone, a lack of control, and shame which can lead to choosing suicide as a way to escape from it all. Mental health is considered to be a conflict diagnosis in different facilities on how to approach and find out which inmates suffer from a mental illness and the steps to take to help prevent prison inmate suicides and the action required if an inmate attempts or succeeds at a suicide.
Conflict Diagnosis Paper
Generally, more than half of all inmates who commit suicide in prison are between 25 and 34 years of age (Tripodi & Bender, 2006). Many who commit suicide in prison were often unemployed and were single with little to no family support. Juveniles or very young inmates are also at risk for committing suicide while in prison, especially those inmates who have no family support. Mental health is a serious condition within a prison setting because every inmate with a mental disorder reacts differently to situations while incarcerated. Many inmates may have psychiatric disorders before entering into prison and many develop disorders while incarcerated. Depression and hopelessness are common in an inmate who are incarcerated and is the leading cause of suicide in prison.
It is the responsibility of the administration, custodial, and the clinical staff to make sure the prevention of suicide in inmates remains in effect and prevention programs are available for inmates who feel they need it. Many prisons are finding it difficult to find trained mental health workers because of the number of workers is far less than the number of inmates needing medical attention. More prisons are establishing comprehensive mental health services in the correctional setting due to a large amount of successful class-action suits, progressive-thinking clinicians and administrators, and legislation actions. By providing suicide prevention programs for inmates, it allows the inmates to gain knowledge of suicide and finding ways to prevent it through rehabilitation for the issues the inmate is facing. An instrument that is commonly used to rate the risk of an offender is known as the Multi-Dimensional Risk Assessment. The goal of this program is to identify suicidal inmate (on their arrival) and to monitor them as they move through the system (JAAPL, 2006).
As the inmate is assessed, they are given a rating depending on the severity of potential suicide. The higher of risk that the inmate is depends on the care they receive and the tracking of the inmate that is required. Their information is entered into the database so if they are transferred to another facility, they are able to receive the appropriate care that is needed. The ABC model could be used for the prevention of suicide in inmates. The focus of the ABC model is to identify the precipitating event, the client’s cognitions about the precipitating event, subjective distress, failed coping mechanisms, and impaired function (Kanel, 2012). There are two stages to the ABC model, the first phase being the interview process of the inmate. This phase will tell the counselor about the inmate and the history of the inmate and family. The next phase is about identifying the problem so if the problem is focused on sharply, then it will prevent any distracting issues that the inmate may face to prevent them from recovery.
There are different methods of suicide that inmates chose to do in order to end their life. Hanging themselves and overdosing are some examples, but many related situations to suicide or reports of inmates developing self-injurious behaviors. Some examples would include cutting, head banging, and ingesting foreign objects in order to cause harm to the body. However, researchers and criminologists debate whether these behaviors have different underlying motivations from suicidal acts and should thus be categorized as categorically different or whether they are indications of more serious suicidal risks in the future (Apter et al.,1995). Self-harming behaviors may indicate suicidal thoughts to officers and workers, and assessment will identify if the inmate intends to end his or her life and how to help fix the issues that are causing the behaviors. Some inmates who use self-harming behaviors may eventually lead to future suicidal attempts or being successful in ending their life.
The assessment and tracking of the inmates will help to discover the inmates who are considered to be suicidal and may help reduce the amount of suicides within the prison setting. Mental health workers are trained to know any signs inmates may be showing and know the groups of people who are at higher risk of suicidal behavior. Groups of people can include juveniles, first time offenders, and people of different races and ethnicity that are higher at risk of committing suicide after entering prison. Women are not considered to be a high risk according to research. Different kinds of factors can lead to suicide such as family history, mental health disorders, depression, and events that occur before or during the prison stay that would lead to wanting to end his or her life completely. Self-harm behavior is also a concern in prison due to inmates using those situations to gain what they want and need from the officers and workers. Rehabilitation and recovery is what the workers try for in order to make not only the officers, workers, and other inmates prison stay less violent but also helps the inmate from doing something to them. Conclusion
Suicide will always be considered to be a major concern in a prison setting and many people can be involved to help prevent and help educate inmates and others on the consequences of suicide. When providing programs and knowledge about suicide, it can help inmates identify any problems they are facing and learn how to cope while they are incarcerated. Many factors can lead to suicidal behaviors which mental health workers need to identify and make sure they are watched so nothing serious occurs when no one is around. Inmate deaths caused by suicide can be prevented if the proper steps are taken to assess the situation.
Hayes, L.M. (1995). Prison Suicide: An Overview and Guide to Prevention. Alexandria, VA: National Center on Institutions and Alternatives. Journal
of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law Online. Preventing Suicide in Prison: A Collaborative Responsibility of Administrative, Custodial, and Clinical Staff. Retrieved from http://www.jaapl.org/content/34/2/165.full#sec-8 Kanel, Krsti. (2012). A Guide to Crisis Intervention. Fourth Edition. Retrieved from the University of Pheonix database. Tripodi, S.J. & Bender, K. Inmate Suicide: Prevalence, Assessment, and Protocols. Retrieved from the University of Phoenix Library.