Bonner identified a number of risk factors associated with suicide by prisoners. This can help identify vulnerable inmates who may benefit from preventive measures. The author is from the Federal Correctional Institution at Shuylkill in Minersville, Pennsylvania.


Hanging is the most common method of committing suicide.


Risk factors:

(1) abnormal behavior with suicidal ideation

(2) history of previous suicide attempts

(3) serious problems with other prisoners or the guards

(4) isolated, lonely or alienated

(5) hopelessness or feeling that there are no reasons for living

(6) depression or other mental illness

(7) family problem or personal loss

(8) housed in isolation or segregation (especially if placed there for behavioral problems)

(9) drug or alcohol intoxication at the time of arrest


In a local jail the prisoner who commits suicide may be a young, first time offender who makes the attempt within 24 hours of arrest.


In a prison the inmate who commits suicide tends to be older and serving a long sentence for a serious crime, with the attempt precipitated by a serious problem.


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