Fighting the tide of prison suicides

The Boston Globe has produced a powerful video documentary and article series on prison suicide and mental illness.

Treating mental illness in prison is a complex business. As Time reported earlier this year, the rates of mental illness are much higher among offenders, confinement is known to worsen mental health, and prison treatment facilities are usually poor.

On top of this, some prisoners attempt to fake mental illness to gain hospital privileges, so working out whether someone is genuinely at risk of harming themselves can be quite tricky.

All of these factors can contribute towards the high suicide rate in prisons, and create tension between staff and families.

As prisons become the asylum of last resort for the mentally ill, desperation, frustration and violence are rising on both sides of the cell door. About 50 times each month, inmates are assaulting prison staff members. And, at nearly the same rate, inmates, many of whom say they are abused by officers, attempt to kill or injure themselves. The Spotlight Team examines the tension between mentally disturbed inmates and their jailers.

The Boston Globe has produced a remarkably comprehensive resource, with video, articles, prisoners suicide notes, official reports, and personal stories.

Link to Boston Globe special report on prison suicide.

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