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Managing Suicidal Inmates in the Jail Setting  

Author:  Richard G. Kiekbusch, Ph.D..

Source: Volume 18, Number 05, July/August 2017 , pp.69-74(6)

Correctional Health Care Report

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No administrator can reliably guarantee that there will never be a suicide in his or her facility, that his jail is suicide-proof. He cannot realistically make this claim any more than he can proclaim his jail to be escape-proof. He can, however, manage the place in a way that decreases the probability of an inmate suicide. In short, he can incorporate what we know about suicidal inmates and suicide attempts into a purposeful set of policies and procedures aimed at identifying those inmates as they arrive, and then carefully managing their confinement. This article describes a comprehensive approach to suicide prevention in jails. It examines suicide risk factors which are broadly recognized and accepted in the jail community and outlines procedures for supervising inmates who present those risk factors. It shows how to establish and maintain a two-part suicide prevention regimen consisting of careful receiving screening and targeted follow-up supervision. Includes a sample “Suicide Watch Screening Form” used by the author in several jail settings.

Keywords: Intake Screening; Supervision of At-Risk Inmates; Suicide Watch

Affiliations:  1: University of Texas—Permian Basin.

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