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Suicide Life Threat Behav. 1997 Summer;27(2):153-63.

Suicides and other deaths in police custody.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Psychology, Vrije University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


This article presents data from a study on 59 deaths in Dutch police stations in the period 1983-1993. Twenty deaths were caused by suicide, 19 by intoxications, 8 by natural causes, and 12 by other or unknown causes. The mortality rate, suicide rate, and poisoning rate in police stations were higher than in penitentiary institutions and in the general population. The morality rate was lower in large police stations than in small police stations. Identification of deviant detainees seemed less problematic than handling these deviant detainees. It is argued that exceptional detainees without serious charges should be transferred to Health Care services. Other structural preventive measures are also discussed.

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