JAIL SUICIDES PREVENTION - The United States is plagued by...

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The United States is plagued by a countless number of social dilemmas. Although not in constant public scrutiny, suicide is a serious problem which has seemed to have lost importance. When suicide is coupled with arrest and incarceration it becomes an increasingly complex situation. In fact, research indicates that the jail suicide rate ranges from 2.5 to 13 times greater than the rate of the general population (Winkler 1992). Motivation, prediction, and prevention of suicidal behavior are grossly unclear, which only adds to the already existing complexity. Many factors involved with arrest and incarceration only serve as a catalyst of suicidal tendencies. Suicide is the primary cause of death in this country's jails. In 1986 there were 401 successful [jail] suicides (Winkler 19992). There are many general assumptions made in regard to suicide. Most believe suicide to be caused by mental illness such as major depression or bipolar disorder. Another belief is that the emotional escalation leading to action takes place over a long period of time. Such is not the case in jail suicides. Much of the research shows that 1/4 of all [jail] suicides occur within the first twenty four hours of incarceration, and an overwhelming number of these take place in the first three hours of isolation which is referred to as the "crisis period" (Hess 1987). The crisis period is reflective of arrest and incarceration as producing extreme confusion, fear, and anxiety. The crisis period is also the result of isolation. Isolation causes an individual to lose all social support systems. Placing an individual in isolation may be a form of protection, but this gives the individual an opportunity to concentrate on feelings of hopelessness (Winkler 1992). Hopelessness can be defined as the presence of despair and negative feelings about the future (Shneidman 1987).Isolation can also produce a severe threat to those inmates who have difficulty with coping abilities as this only encourages future deterioration. Undoubtedly, isolation is often necessary to contain a person, or to prevent injury to the individual and, or other inmates. Individuals who are experiencing obvious mental stress should certainly not be held in isolation for obvious reasons. According to Hess (1983),many facilities have regulations which state,"The
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This note was uploaded on 11/19/2009 for the course ENG 102 taught by Professor Wilis during the Fall '08 term at Academy of Art University.

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JAIL SUICIDES PREVENTION - The United States is plagued by...

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