Preventing Suicide and Self-Harm in Jail
Source: Vera Institute of Justice
Resource Type: Documents and Publications
Focus Population: People experiencing Suicidal Urges, People with Criminal Justice System Involvement
Topics: Criminal or Juvenile Justice System, Suicide Postvention, Suicide Prevention
Suicide is the leading cause of death in jails across the country. At a time when the public is paying closer attention to local jails and their primary role in mass incarceration, it is critical to shine light on the problem of jail suicide and the steps jails can take to prevent future deaths. This report is the second from Vera that frames suicide and self-harm in correctional facilities as “sentinel events” that signal a breakdown in underlying systems of care. Vera’s first report provided practical guidance on how to conduct a sentinel event review—an all-stakeholder, nonblaming, and forward-looking examination of the error—in the aftermath of a suicide in custody. In this report, Vera shares lessons learned from an in-depth study of how four county jail systems review and respond to incidents of suicide and self-harm and the feasibility of integrating sentinel event reviews into those jails’ regular practices.