Background: Self-harm among prisoners is high, and suicide rates increasing. Assessment of depressive characteristics is easy. To what extent are these linked with previous self-harm?
Aims: To compare depressive characteristics of prisoners who report previous self-harm with those who do not.
Methods: Twenty-four new arrivals at an adult male category B local prison who reported previous episodes of suicidal behaviour (including self-harm and/or explicit attempted suicide) were assessed using the Beck Hopelessness Scale, the Beck Depression Inventory-II, and the Beck Scale for Suicide Ideation. A further 24 new arrivals were matched as closely as possible with them on sociodemographic and offending characteristics.
Results: Mean scores on the Beck Hopelessness Scale, the Beck Depression Inventory-II, and the Beck Scale for Suicide Ideation were significantly higher among the prisoners with a history of self-harm.
Discussion: Prisoners with a previous history of self-harm are more likely than those without to show a range of depressive symptoms than their imprisoned peers without such a history, suggesting a continued vulnerability to self-harm and perhaps suicide.
Copyright (c) 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.