National study of jail suicide: 20 years later


(For resources, this is the publication date. For programs, this is the date posted.)


Hayes LM
National Institute of Corrections

In September 2006, the National Center on Institutions and Alternatives (NCIA) entered into a cooperative agreement with the National Institute of Corrections (NIC) to conduct a national study on jail suicide that would determine the extent and distribution of inmate suicides in local jails (i.e., city, county, and police department facilities) and also gather descriptive data on the demographic characteristics of each victim, characteristics of the incident, and characteristics of the jail facility that sustained the suicide. The study, a followup to a similar national survey that NCIA conducted in 1986, resulted in a report of the findings to be used as a resource tool for both jail personnel in expanding their knowledge base and correctional (as well as mental health and medical) administrators in creating and/or revising policies and training curricula on suicide prevention.

This followup study found substantial changes in the demographic characteristics of inmates who died by suicide, as well as an increase in the suicide rate from 36/100,000 inmates in 1986 to 107/100,000 in 2006.