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Suicide in prisons and remand centres: Screening and prevention 

Suicide in prisons and remand centres: Screening and prevention
Suicide in prisons and remand centres: Screening and prevention

Ad Kerkhof

and Eric Blaauw

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date: 04 July 2022

Early identification of prisoners with suicide risk, and the prevention of suicide, are of great importance given the high suicide rates in correctional facilities. General suicide screening instruments are not very useful in prisons and remand centres. A new screening instrument has been developed and tested consisting of eight questions. The cut-off score, retrospectively, allowed the identification of 82 per cent of all Dutch prisoner suicides. By screening new inmates, this set of questions classified 18 per cent of all prisoners in a high-risk group. All of these inmates require immediate and further assessment by a medical or mental health care officer. However, even without screening, these prisoners will visit medical or mental health services sometime later during their incarceration, because of their level of psychopathology. Regular follow-up interviews are necessary to assess the suicide risk. Suicidal prisoners, most of whom have severe psychiatric disorders, should receive standard treatment in the same way as ordinary people would receive treatment beyond prison walls.

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