Preventing Jail Suicide: Adjusting Current Strategies to Save Lives

Preventing Jail Suicide: Adjusting Current Strategies to Save Lives
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1Module 1
Recorded on: 2021-02-02
Unit 1Slide Deck: Preventing Jail Suicide
Unit 2Transcript: Preventing Jail Suicide
Unit 3Workbook: Preventing Jail Suicide
Unit 4Recording: Preventing Jail Suicide

Prisons have higher rates of suicide deaths than the general population and jails have even higher suicide rates than prisons. With this is in mind, it is imperative that these facilities are trained and equipped to prevent these as much as possible. This webinar provides guidelines on how detention and correction facilities can prevent suicide deaths.

This course’s instructor is Dr. Lisa Boesky. She is a psychologist and Jail Suicide Expert. She has consulted and trained in corrections for more than two decades in the area of suicide prevention and mental health. She conducts “Suicide Vulnerability Assessments” within correctional facilities to assess and improve their suicide prevention practices and policies. She’s also renowned as an opinion source on the topic for various media organizations in the US.

In this session, Dr. Lisa provides a rundown of eight strategies that jails may utilize to avoid suicide deaths and related lawsuits. Specifics include:

  • An overview of the prevalence of suicide deaths in jails and prisons, the outcomes of lack of suicide prevention measures, and the challenge posed to those working in these facilities.
  • Unpacking the risk factors that exist in detention and corrections settings, what detained and incarcerated individuals are feeling, and what they’re looking for.
  • The criticality of having a comprehensive suicide prevention training and policy that is practical, interactive, and is tailored for the facility’s needs and resources.
  • The recommended trainings to conduct which includes a full-day suicide prevention training as part of onboarding and periodic refresher trainings for updates on policy and practice.
  • Incorporating realistic drills and scenario-based training that allows staff to have a feel of the high-intensity situation and to practice response for these.
  • Increasing protective factors that decrease a person’s likelihood of suicide through recreation and interaction, and access to support systems, coping mechanisms and medication if needed.
  • Employing a prompt suicide screening procedure that provides the privacy that ensures honest and accurate screening results based on the subject’s answers and staff observation.
  • A sample of a comprehensive screening tool with a mix of questions that provide insights on an individual’s mindset and risk for suicide.
  • The importance of constant, effective, and timely monitoring for suicide risks throughout an individual’s tenure in the facility.
  • Conducting intensive monitoring for those identified to be at-risk with recommendations on the method, schedule, and policy for checks.
  • The importance of customizing monitoring procedures depending on the individual’s safety level and updating it based on the risks they exhibit.
  • The role of a Qualified Mental Health Professional in jails and prisons to conduct regular suicide risk assessments and be available in case of a suicide crisis.
  • The crucial component of housing in ensuring safety – providing suicide-resistant rooms, where to put these rooms, and the elements of suicide-resistant rooms.
  • The value of human interaction to prevent suicide ideation and risks – how isolation can aggravate suicide risks and how regular jail and prison staff can provide this suicide-prevention component.
  • Integrating these strategies in facilities and the small changes that can be made to make jails and prisons safer, prevent jail suicide, and avoid legal liabilities.


This is part of a two-part series:


Audience Comments

  • “The webinar was awesome with Dr, Lisa Boesky, I really enjoyed her topics on Life Saving Measures, Risk Factors/Protective Factors in the prison system. Also, Inmate Coping Skills while being detained and incarcerated, along with addressing interest in the inmate’s activities and visits.” — Talbert
  • “It moved at a good pace, had great speaking, and it was easy to stay attentive to the information. Covered basics and more established ideas and I believe had something for everyone. Great training for a webinar.” — Scott
  • “It gave us lot’s of things to think about and to look for.” –Robert
  • “Having been a Corrections Officer for over 14 years I believe that this is a very under-trained topic. I think not only suicide but dealing with emotionally distraught individuals should be focused on in the training element a lot more than it is. Communicating with these people and noticing the signs is such a huge part of an Officers duties, both Patrol and Corrections really.” — Russell
  • “I loved the suicidal assessment provided and loved how to look at the prevention of suicidal by looking at room safety.” — Nodean
  • “I really liked the booking screening questionnaire from Texas. This is something I would like to get and then adjust.” — Mark
  • “I like how she reviewed the things that we need to look for or how to be proactive when trying to secure the area to help prevent suicide.” — Mary
  • “Excellent presentation by Dr. Lisa Boesky. She had a wealth of life-saving information that I found helpful and vital in my career as an Offender Service Case Manager.” — Lisa



Additional Resources
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