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Psychiatr Prax. 2001 Oct;28(7):326-9.

[Did suicidal behavior have relevance for prison suicide?].

[Article in German]

Author information

  • 1Klinische Abteilung für Sozialpsychiatrie u. Evaluationsforschung, Universitätsklinik für Psychiatrie, Wien, Osterreich. stefan.fruehwald@univie.ac.at



Suicides in correctional institutions occur more frequently than in the general population. Inmate suicide rates have been increasing in many countries during the last decades, possibly reflecting a selection of highly endangered individuals with a high prevalence of mental disorders. This study investigates all suicides in all correctional institutions of Austria during the last 25 years.


All available personal files of inmates who had committed suicide in the 29 Austrian prisons between January 1st, 1975, and December 31st, 1999, were analysed. Beside personal characteristics and circumstances of custody, information concerning psychiatric disorders and the inmate's history of suicidal behavior was included.


220 personal files of 250 suicides were available and included. Half of all suicides had a history of attempted suicide and 37 % had expressed suicidality. Referral to psychiatric consultants was known in 48.6 % and about 37 % received psychopharmacological treatment. Based on these frequent signs of psychiatric illness and vulnerability, possible implications of these results for psychiatric services of the correctional system to improve suicide prevention are discussed.


Obvious signs of suicidality play an important role in vulnerability profiles for jail and prison suicides. Any signs of suicidality (st. p. attempted suicide, verbal suicide threat, self-harm) should have the consequence of further psychiatric care.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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