Suicides and self-harm are endemic to our nation’s jails, with suicide the leading cause of mortality for jail inmates. Given the high incidence of suicide and serious self-harm in corrections facilities, it is important for corrections agencies, including staff, to understand the causes of these incidents and improve policies and practices to minimize their occurrence.

This study aims to reduce the frequency of suicide and self-harm by applying and testing a sentinel events review process for incidents of suicide and self-harm that occur in the New York City jail. This review process, adapted from similar processes in other fields, will bring together health and correctional staff to examine and then respond to the underlying systemic problems that contribute to self-harm in the jail. The process is non-blaming and forward looking, and is intended to prevent future errors from occurring by instilling an ethic of shared responsibility and a culture of safety.

Project Objectives

  • Reduce the incidences of suicide and serious self-harm by studying and addressing some of the root systemic causes 

  • Help corrections agencies appropriately respond to incidents of suicide and self-harm

  • Expand access to appropriate care and treatment for incarcerated people experiencing suicidal tendencies