Preventing Jail Suicide: Issues We Don’t Talk About, But Should

Preventing Jail Suicide: Issues We Don’t Talk About, But Should
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1Module 1
Recorded on: 2021-03-25
Unit 1Slide Deck: Preventing Jail Suicide
Unit 2Transcript: Preventing Jail Suicide
Unit 3Workbook: Preventing Jail Suicide
Unit 4Recording: Preventing Jail Suicide

This is the second installment of Dr. Lisa Boesky’s Preventing Jail Suicide webinars. The first session unpacked specific strategies that jails may implement to avoid suicide deaths and related lawsuits. On this session, the focus shifts into the rarely talked-about and even controversial issues surrounding jail suicides.

Dr. Lisa is a Psychologist and Jail Suicide Expert providing training and consultancy services to correctional professionals. She conducts assessments to evaluate a correction facility’s suicide prevention practices, serves as an expert witness and consultant on lawsuits involving jail suicide, and is a renowned media source for these topics.

This webinar’s specifics covered:

  • The debate on the use of suicide smocks
    • How wearing this significantly impacts an inmate’s mood and feelings and how other inmates perceive those who wear the smocks.
    • Determining the instances when to employ the smocks and similar options based on the individual’s level of risk, housing situation, and level of monitoring.
  • The practice of making inmates sign No-Suicide Contracts.
    • A study debunking the effectivity of this outdated strategy.
    • Using safety plans instead which ensures a customized plan based on the individual’s circumstances, the environment, and the available resources.
    • The collaborative approach where the inmate’s opinion is considered.
  • Inmates’ knowledge of another inmate’s likelihood for suicide, fostering a culture that encourages inmates to speak up in such instances, and the importance of listening to inmates.
  • Mental health disorders in corrections and detention facilities.
    • The reality that facilities are inundated with persons with mental conditions/illness.
    • The demand for jails and prisons to have mental health resources, programming, and strategies to support these individuals, despite this not being what they’re designed for.
  • Risk factors for suicide: What the risk factors are, determining who must be put on safety watch based on risk factors, and identifying the highest risks and looking for warning signs.
  • Protocols in terms of check-ins following an individual’s removal from safety watch, and how continuous treatments and follow-ups can make all the difference in terms of outcomes.
  • The importance of conducting reviews after every suicide attempt, who should be involved in the reviews, and positioning the review so there is no blame, just learning opportunities.
  • The three suicide-specific treatment models that mental health professionals must be trained in to reduce an individual’s suicide ideation.
  • The value in talking about these issues and the progress being made in jails and prisons on related matters that could pave the way for a more effective jail suicide prevention strategy.

Questions from the webinar participants were about:

  • Handling individuals who circumvent the suicide watch system to get what they want.
  • Credentials to be able to take suicide-specific treatment trainings.



This is part of a two-part series:


Resources and Handouts


Audience Comments

  • “Comprehensive and well presented using coordinated approaches. Excellent scenarios and questions. Very professionally knowledgeable and practical!” — Bill
  • “This was an example of a webinar that will keep people’s interest throughout. Great presenter who will not turn off correctional personnel.” — Susan
  • “As a Corrections Officer in the assignment of Jail Investigator/Classification, I personally find this topic to be very interesting. Over my extensive career I have been part of responding to or conducting the investigation of either suicide attempts, or successful suicides. So being taught the best Warning signs and potential procedural changes to try and implement is always great.” — Russell
  • “Excellent speaker, love the interactive manner in which the webinar was conducted. Interesting subject and very well presented. Loved it.” — Nathalie
  • “Dr. Boesky was an amazing speaker – it was all valuable. As someone who works in the prison system, I would love to hear her talk more specifically about that population who are serving much longer sentences than those in jail.” — Meaghan
  • “One of the best presenters I’ve seen on JCH. Fast-paced and engaging and I liked having several polling questions!” — Jill
  • “The most valuable thing I’ve learned from viewing this webinar is the numerous risks of suicide and making sure to place close attention to the more serious ones to determine the level of precaution.” — Janice
  • “The most valuable thing I learned is when dealing with inmates, it is important to treat every suicide attempt seriously. Even if it is part of “the games inmates play”, we need to find a way to deal with the situation so both parties (inmates and CO’s) can win.” — Erika



Additional Resources
3 years ago
After the Webinar: Preventing Jail Suicides – Issues We Don’t Talk about, But Should. Q&A with Dr. Lisa Boesky
Webinar presenter Dr. Lisa Boesky answered a number of your questions after her presentation, Preven […]
3 years ago
Preventing Jail Suicide: Adjusting Current Strategies to Save Lives
Prisons have higher rates of suicide deaths than the general population and jails have even higher s […]
3 years ago
Standards of Care: Mental Health in Our Jails and Prisons…Now What?
Correctional health care is public health care – if we can release the inmate population much bett […]
5 years ago
Balancing Order and Recovery: Blueprints for a High-Performing, Trauma-Resilient Jail
A significant number of those incarcerated are affected by trauma. Since part of correctional facili […]
5 years ago
Legal Issues in Today’s Jail: Medical Care
For most of the population, being an inmate is somewhat equated to being bereft of rights – this i […]