Prison suicides and mental illness

Piggybacking on Amp’s report of recent NYT statistics on prisons and prisoners in the U.S. is the news that prisoner suicides in Massachusetts state prisons are nearly triple the rate in other states. From the first part of a three-part series in The Boston Globe:

Last year alone, seven inmates killed themselves, and another’s attempt left him brain dead; four have taken their lives so far this year.

Department of Correction officials say the suicides are random and unrelated. But a Globe Spotlight Team investigation of the deaths and detailed reconstruction of how they occurred found that they were far from random.

Most of the suicides came after careless errors and dangerous decisions by correction officials and the staff at UMass Correctional Health. And the trail of violence is far wider than the number of dead would indicate, as hundreds more inmates each year have wounded themselves or attempted suicide.

In fact, such incidents are soaring.

So common has it been to find a man with a makeshift noose around his neck that some correction officers have taken to carrying their own pocket tools to cut them down. The tally of suicide attempts and self-inflicted injuries – 513 last year and more than 3,200 over the past decade – tells a story of deepening mental illness and misery behind the walls of the state’s prisons, despite repeated calls for better training of officers and safer cells for mentally troubled inmates.

The entire series is here.

h/t to Liz at The Trouble with Spikol

Cross-posted at The Gimp Parade

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2 Responses to Prison suicides and mental illness

  1. 1
    Dianne says:

    …repeated calls for better training of officers and safer cells for mentally troubled inmates.

    I see no one’s gone wild and crazy and suggested some insane radical idea like, oh, treatment for mentally ill inmates.

  2. 2
    wondering says:

    Does anyone have an idea as to how that number (513) compares to the rate of suicides in the general public?