Inmate suicide and time spent in special disciplinary housing in New York State prison

Psychiatr Serv. 2007 Apr;58(4):558-60. doi: 10.1176/ps.2007.58.4.558.


Objective: This study examined the number of days that prisoners spent in a special disciplinary housing unit in New York State prison before a suicide occurred.

Methods: Suicides that occurred between 1993 and 2003 were reviewed.

Results: A total of 32 suicides occurred in one-person special housing cells during the 11-year period. Inmates spent a median of 63 days in a special disciplinary housing cell before committing suicide. The aggregate median sentence these inmates were serving in special housing at the time of suicide was 298.5 days.

Conclusions: Because most suicides in a special housing unit occurred within eight weeks of placement, enhanced observation of special housing inmates is warranted in that period at a minimum.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Length of Stay / statistics & numerical data*
  • New York
  • Prisons / statistics & numerical data*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Isolation*
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Suicide / psychology
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data*
  • Suicide Prevention