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Prioritizing Inmate Wellbeing: A Guide to Suicide Prevention Resources

Incarcerated individuals face unique challenges, requiring a focus on their well-being. Suicide prevention is a crucial concern within correctional facilities, demanding comprehensive resources and support. Roadrunner Health Services (RHS), committed to correctional healthcare, recognizes the significance of addressing inmate mental health. Let's delve into essential suicide prevention resources, highlighting the crucial role of prison care and collaboration with correctional healthcare partners.

Understanding the Challenge

Suicide in correctional facilities is a serious and complex issue that requires careful attention. According to the Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, "suicide is the third leading cause of death in U.S. prisons and the second in jails."  Inmates face unique stressors, including isolation, confinement, and limited access to mental health services. Recognizing the challenges is the first step toward implementing effective suicide prevention measures.

The Journal continues to say that there is also an issue in underreporting suicides--for example, if a victim doesn't die from an attempted suicide until after they arrive at the hospital, the records may not reflect the cause of death accurately. It should be noted that almost half (45%-63%) of inmate suicides occur by those who have already made prior attempts.

Risk Factors of Suicide in Correctional Facilities

Mental Health

Suicide rates are heavily influenced by mental health. Within the prison population, 8 to 15 percent of individuals have a severe and ongoing mental illness, a statistic that is even higher in maximum-security prisons. The two most prevalent psychological states at the time of suicide are depression and hopelessness. Although depression and suicide are connected, studies have found that the link between hopelessness and suicide is even stronger.

Suicide Prevention Resources

To effectively prevent suicides in prisons, a unified effort from administrative, custodial, and clinical staff is crucial. One of RHS's utmost priorities is prioritizing mental health and creating a comprehensive care system. A well-crafted program must cover all bases - identifying at-risk individuals, evaluating and treating them, taking preventive measures, and training all staff involved. 

a. Mental Health Counseling

Access to mental health counseling within correctional facilities is essential. RHS provides trained professionals who can address the patients’ mental health concerns. Roadrunner Health Services advocates for the integration of mental health counseling programs to provide inmates with a space to discuss their thoughts and emotions.

b. Educational Programs

Educational programs centered on mental health awareness and coping mechanisms help inmates develop a deeper understanding of their emotions and improve their ability to manage them. These programs also contribute to establishing a supportive atmosphere within correctional facilities and reducing the negative connotations of reaching out for assistance.

c. Adequate Staffing

Proper and competent staffing is undeniably one of a facility's best lines of defense against suicide. Having access to high-quality training is crucial in preventing suicide. It's essential to recognize that suicide prevention is a complex issue, and proper training can equip individuals with the knowledge and skills needed to support those at risk. RHS invests in high-quality training so that we can improve our ability to prevent suicide and save lives.

Correctional Care: A Holistic Approach

One of our cornerstones is compassionate care. Correctional care should reach beyond physical health; it encompasses inmates' mental and emotional well-being. Roadrunner Health Services advocates for a holistic approach to inmate care, recognizing that mental health is a fundamental component of overall well-being. Regular check-ins with inmates can help healthcare providers detect signs of distress and implement timely interventions.

Prioritizing inmate well-being and suicide prevention requires a multifaceted approach. Roadrunner Health Services is committed to advocating for and implementing resources that address incarcerated individuals' unique challenges. Reach out now to create a more streamlined and compassionate facility today.