Preventing Prison Suicide With Life-Trajectory-Based Screening [2017]

We describe the application of a life-trajectory model of suicide to the prison setting and its implication for suicide risk detection. A model has been developed that describes two distinct trajectories culminating in suicide: one with large amounts of adversity early in life with a young age of suicide and another with chronic, gradually accumulating adversity with a later age of suicide. Support for applying the life-trajectory model to the prison population is found in prison-centric models of suicidal behavior and clinical profiles of individuals at high risk of suicide in prisons. We also describe how the life-trajectory model applies to two recent high-profile suicides within the Canadian prison system. Finally, we propose a screening tool based on the life-trajectory model to quantify an individual’s adversity burden at intake and subsequently throughout incarceration. We describe how this proposed tool may improve detection of individuals with increased risk of suicide and describe the steps necessary for the development of this tool.

Tyler S. Kaster, Michael S. Martin and Alexander I. F. Simpson

Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law Online, March 2017, 45 (1)