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Characteristics of Juvenile Suicide in Confinement

NCJ Number
Date Published
February 2009
16 pages
This study examined data on the extent, characteristics, and distribution of suicides within juvenile facilities throughout the country.
Findings suggest that although the rate of compliance with individual suicide prevention components was high, few juvenile facilities that sustained a suicide had all the components of a comprehensive suicide prevention program. Consistent with national correctional standards and practices, all juvenile facilities, regardless of size and type, should have a detailed written suicide prevention policy that addresses each of the following critical components: training of all facility, medical, and mental health staff; identification/screening at intake for suicide risks; enhanced communication regarding facility procedures; housing which avoids isolation; increased levels of supervision for youth at risk; a threefold policy regarding intervention; improved chain of command reporting in the event of an attempted or completed suicide; followup critical incident stress debriefing for staff and youth involved in the incident; 100 percent certification training in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) for staff; improved suicide precaution protocol; safe housing processes by which a suicidal youth could be assigned to a safe and protrusion-free room; and a mortality review following each suicide. Data were collected on 110 juvenile suicides in confinement occurring between 1995 and 1999. Descriptive data were gathered on the demographic characteristics and social history of each victim, the characteristics of the incident, and the features of the juvenile facility in which the suicide took place; particular attention was paid to each facility’s implementation of suicide prevention programming. Figures and references

Date Published: February 1, 2009