Critical Issues - Suicide in Correctional Settings

From: Journal of Forensic Sciences, Vol. 41, 1996

Medically Serious Suicide Attempts in a Jail with a Suicide-Prevention Program

Kelley A. Farmer, M.D.
Alan R. Felthous, M.D.
Charles E. Holzer, III, Ph.D.


A suicide prevention program was implemented at the Galveston County Jail in 1986, reducing the number of suicides to only one from that time to the present. In the ten years prior to the implementation of the program, there had been seven suicides. Nevertheless, there have been a number of cases of medically serious suicide attempts that have occurred since implementation of the program. Thirteen cases of suicide attempts severe enough to warrant transfer to an emergency room for medical attention were identified through jail incident reports as occurring between 1989, when improvements were made in record-keeping at the jail, and July of 1994, when this study was initiated. Hospital records, jail medical records, jail administrative records, and, in some cases, competency evaluations were obtained for each case. The cases were examined regarding demographic data, psychiatric history, circumstances surrounding the act, and results of psychiatric evaluation performed after the act. The findings were then compared to studies of suicides and near-suicides in the literature.

Examination of these cases has provided information that should render the suicide prevention program even more effective as well as provide useful information to other jails interested in implementing or improving a suicide-prevention program.

Suicide in Correctional Settings Suicide in Correctional Settings

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