Prison suicides in Austria, 1975-1997

Suicide Life Threat Behav. 2000 Winter;30(4):360-9.


Suicide prevention in custody is hampered by the lack of funds and professional staff. In order to evaluate the prison suicide phenomenon, a study was conducted evaluating all suicides that occurred in Austrian prisons between 1975 and 1997 (n = 220). In addition to evaluating the number of male versus female suicides, the preferred suicide methods were studied, as well as suicide risk of different circumstances of custody. Suicide rates of distinguishable, important subgroups of prisoners were calculated. The suicide rate for prisoners on remand was 236.0 per 100,000, and for offenders classified as mentally ill it was 205.4 per 100,000. That is about 8 times higher than the suicide rate in Austria's general population (1975-1997: 24.6 per 100,000). The suicide rate for sentenced offenders was 81.3 per 100,000, about twice the suicide rate in Austria's general male population. We recommend that psychologists or psychiatrists concentrate on the suicide prevention of high-risk offenders after screening the newly admitted offenders for their propensity to suicide.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Austria
  • Cause of Death
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / complications
  • Periodicity
  • Prisoners / psychology*
  • Risk
  • Sex Distribution
  • Suicide / prevention & control
  • Suicide / psychology
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data*
  • Time Factors