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NCJ Number: 167996 Find in a Library
Title: Juvenile Suicide in Custody: A National Survey and Psychological Autopsy Study; Excerpt
Author(s): L M Hayes
Corporate Author: National Ctr on Institutions and Alternatives
Jail Suicide Prevention Task Force
United States of America
Date Published: 1997
Page Count: 8
Sponsoring Agency: National Ctr on Institutions and Alternatives
Alexandria, VA 22314
Sale Source: National Ctr on Institutions and Alternatives
Jail Suicide Prevention Task Force
814 North Saint Asaph St
Alexandria, VA 22314
United States of America
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: After reviewing research on the prevalence and causes of juvenile inmate suicide, this report identifies factors in preventing such suicides.
Abstract: There has been no comprehensive study to date on the scope and causes of juvenile suicide in confinement. The Centers for Disease Control has documented youth suicide in the community, reporting that the suicide rate of adolescents (ages 15 to 19) has quadrupled from 2.7 per 100,000 in 1950 to 10.8 per 100,000 in 1992. Brent (1995) reported that the overwhelming and convergent evidence is that the most important set of risk factors for completed and attempted suicide in adolescents are those with mental disorder and substance abuse. Brent also found that among family factors associated with adolescent suicidal behavior, parental depression and substance abuse, family discord and abuse, and poor family support were particularly prominent. Life stressors, specifically interpersonal conflict/loss and legal/disciplinary problems were also associated with suicidal behavior in adolescents, particularly those who were substance abusers. It could be argued that many of these risk factors are prevalent in youth confined in juvenile facilities throughout the Nation. Two national studies of jail suicide (1981 and 1988) and one national study of prison suicide (1995) for the National Institute of Corrections show that jail suicide continues to be the leading cause of death in custody, and the rate of suicide in prison was 20.6 per 100,000, a suicide rate far below that for jails but more than 40 percent greater than that of the general population. In a cursory review of juvenile confinement data, Memory (1989) estimated that the suicide rate for youth held in juvenile detention facilities was 57 per 100,000. It has been theorized that there are two primary causes for jail suicide: the jail environment and the inmate's perception of jail as a crisis. In the jail environment, the inmate may have fear of the unknown, distrust of authoritarian environment, lack of apparent control over the future, isolation from family and significant others, shame of incarceration, and the dehumanizing aspects of incarceration. Factors in the inmate's psychology and background may interact with the jail environment to stimulate suicidal behavior. A research program under the sponsorship of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention is the only source of data for juveniles in custody. One of the studies under this research program showed that facilities that conduct suicide screening at admission and train their staff in suicide prevention had lower rates of suicidal behavior among their residents. Studies of juvenile suicide in custody are impeded because there is no national data source currently available to document the scope and causes of juvenile suicide in confinement.
Main Term(s): Juvenile suicide
Index Term(s): Inmate suicide; Suicide causes; Suicide prevention
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