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October 2021

Assessment of custodial suicide risk - Jail and prison suicides in Austria 1975-1996

Author(s): Frottier, P., Eher, R., Aigner, M., Gutierrez, K., Ritter, K.

Journal/Book: Psychiat Prax. 2000; 27: Rudigerstr 14, D-70469 Stuttgart, Germany. Georg Thieme Verlag. 195-200.

Abstract: Objective: Although incarceration is a high-risk situation for suicide all over the world, hardly any results have been published concerning the situation of custodial suicide in German-speaking countries. Methods: We investigated the case notes of all suicides occuring in Austrian prisons between 1975 and 1996 (n=207). Beside an evaluation of gender and preferred methods of suicide the suicide risk of different circumstances of custody was studied. Suicide rates of distinguishable, important subgroups of prisoners were calculated using the official statistical data of the Ministry of justice. Results: The suicide rate for people on remand and offenders classified as mentally ill was 231/100 000 vs. 191/100 000, that was about eight times higher than the suicide rate in Austria's general population. The suicide rate for sentenced offenders was 80/100 000, about three times as high as the suicide rate in Austria's general population (1980 - 1990: 26.4/100 000). The suicide risk increased with the length of the announced sentence. Conclusions: The suicide rate in custody was highest for prisoners on remand and mentally ill offenders. Female offenders had a high suicide risk, too. The common assumption that the suicide risk in jails and prisons is highest shortly after admission should be confirmed based on better methodology or be reconsidered.

Note: Article Fruhwald S, Univ Vienna, Psychiat Klin, AKH Wien, Klin Abt Sozialpsychiat & Evaluat Forsch, Wahringer Gurtel 18-20, A-1090 Vienna, AUSTRIA


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