Conditions of Confinement
Suicide Prevention in Juvenile Facilities

In August 1994, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention published Conditions of Confinement: Juvenile Detention and Corrections Facilities (Parent et al., 1994). The study described in that Report investigated several conditions of confinement within juvenile facilities, including suicide prevention practices. Using four specific assessment criteria to evaluate suicide prevention practices—written procedures, intake screening, staff training, and close observation—the study found the following:

Bullet Only 25 percent of confined juveniles were in facilities that conformed to all four suicide prevention assessment criteria.

Bullet Facilities that conducted suicide screening at admission and trained staff in suicide prevention had fewer incidents of suicidal behavior among their residents.

Bullet Suicidal behavior increased for youth housed in isolation.

Bullet Written policies to provide close observation of suicidal residents did not appear to significantly reduce the rate of suicidal behavior. Because these policies are typically implemented after the risk or attempt is recognized, however, they may reduce the number of suicides.

Juvenile Justice - Youth With Mental Health Disorders:
Issues and Emerging Responses
April 2000,
Volume VII · Number 1