Preventing prison suicides: staff perspectives

STUBBS Jessica, DURCAN Graham
Centre for Mental Health
Publication year:
Place of publication:

The fourth in a series of briefings into mental health in prisons, this briefing focuses on staff views on what contributes to vulnerability and suicide risk in prisoners. It also makes recommendations based on staff members’ views and their examples of promising practice. The briefing draws on findings from interviews and focus groups held with health care staff, safer custody officers and independent clinical reviewers working in prisons and for health care providers. The figures show that suicide in prison, incidents of self-harm and violent incidents have all risen dramatically over the past three years. Staff identified staffing shortages, inexperienced staff, a prison culture which views prisoner’s distress, self-harming or suicide attempts as ‘manipulative’ rather than ‘vulnerable’, and the increasing complex needs of the prison population as contributing to increased risk of suicide. Staff also highlighted arrival in prison as a time of increased suicide risk and the importance of completing assessments for new arrivals. Recommendations include: the adoption of a ‘stepped care’ approach’ where in which the whole system is responsible for a prisoner’s wellbeing and mental health support is available at every level of need; providing training and support for staff; and the need for robust assessments when a person arrives in prison. (Edited publisher abstract)

Subject terms:
suicide, prisoners, prisons, prevention, staff, attitudes, health professionals, risk, mental health problems, needs assessment;
Content type:
England, Wales
Register/Log in to view this resource

Key to icons

  • Free resource Free resource
  • Journal article Journal article
  • Book Book
  • Digital media Digital media
  • Journal Journal

Give us your feedback

Social Care Online continues to be developed in response to user feedback.

Contact us with your comments and for any problems using the website.

Sign up/login for more

Register/login to access resource links, advanced search and email alerts