Newly Released Prisoners at Increased Risk of Suicide
December 13, 2013—Research on the mortality of released prisoners is sparse and what research has been conducted has mainly focused on drug-related causes of death. Researchers in the U.K. recently undertook a systematic review to investigate the risk of suicide in recently released prisoners.
Released prisoners are almost seven times more likely to commit suicide than the general population, the review of international research has revealed.
Researchers Daniel Jones, of the University of Hull, and Alan Maynard, of the University of York, looked at nine studies conducted in Europe, the US and Australia, five of which provided enough data to undertake a meta-analysis. Their review found that the increased risk is likely to be linked to high levels of mental illness among prisoners, combined with the stress of transition from prison to the community.
The review examined a total of 460,983 released prisoners to investigate the risk of suicide. All studies showed increased suicide mortality in this group, with 1,102 suicides out of a total of 7,511 deaths recorded.
Writing in the journal Mental Health Practice, the authors stated that suicide was the second most common cause of death, behind drug-related causes, and, worldwide, the increased risk of suicide is 6.76 times higher than in the general population.
Solutions for supporting this high-risk group include prison authorities working closely with probation, social and healthcare services in the community to ensure they have access to a complete service.
The researchers also call for the funding of randomised controlled trials to gather an evidence base for developing effective and cost-effective interventions.
“Suicide in recently released prisoners: a systematic review,” Daniel Jones and Alan Maynard,
Mental Health Practice 2013 17: 3 , 20 -27.