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.