Does "isolation" cause jail suicides?

J Am Acad Psychiatry Law. 1997;25(3):285-94.


In their efforts to prevent suicides, psychiatrists who consult to jails face a terrible dilemma. Placing a suicidal inmate in a single cell to restrict access to harmful materials and instruments is a common practice. Yet, mental health authorities argue that isolating a suicidal inmate only fuels the flames of his self-destructive impulses. It behooves mental health professionals to advocate relentlessly for better staffing patterns in jails and more humane approaches to suicidal inmates. Meanwhile, in some jail settings, the combination of single cell placement, complete disarmament, and close observation may be the most effective available option.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Prisons*
  • Social Isolation*
  • Suicide Prevention*