Preventing suicidal and self-Injurious behavior in correctional facilities: A systematic literature review and meta-analysis


Stefan Stijelja, Brian Mishara.


Summary Background Rates of suicide and self-harm are elevated in carceral institutions. Inmates are a vulnerable group since they are exposed to multiple risk factors. This paper critically reviews empirical research on programs to prevent suicidal and self-harmful behaviors in correctional facilities and summarizes effect sizes across studies. Methods We searched PsychINFO, PubMed, IEEEXPLORE and the CRISE Documentation Centre Database to identify relevant articles published before June 2022. Inclusion criteria were: peer-reviewed and with outcome data on effectiveness of prevention activities. Two reviewers independently assessed 905 articles to determine inclusion eligibility. Quality was assessed by two independent reviewers using the Quality Assessment Tool for Quantitative Studies. Meta-analyses using random-effect models were used to pool effect sizes for each outcome. This review was conducted in accordance with PRISMA guidelines. Findings Twenty-four of the 905 articles, published between 1980 and 2022, were included. Studies were frequently conducted in the United States (n=13; 54%) and used varying study designs; most frequently pre-post with no control group (n=9; 38%). Sample sizes and interventions varied considerably. Most were of moderate quality (n=21; 88%). On average, prevention programs in correctional facilities were effective in decreasing suicide deaths (pooled rate ratio of 0·35 [95% CI 0·23 to 0·55; ptextless0·001]; I2=68·01%), incidents of self-harm (pooled Hedges'g of -0·54 (95% CI: -1·03 to -0·05; p=0·031]; I2=81·34%), and suicidal ideation (pooled Hedges'g of -0·39 [95% CI: -0·65 to -0·14; p=0·003]; I2=47·09%). Interpretation Prevention activities are effective in reducing suicide death, self-harm and suicidal ideation in correctional settings. Multicomponent programs, which include several preventive activities, seem to be most effective in reducing suicide deaths. Future evaluation studies should control for confounding variables by including control groups, having larger samples and limiting attrition. Standards for suicide prevention in jails and prisons should be included in National suicide prevention strategies. Funding None. PRÉVENTIONMILIEU-CARCÉRALDÉTENUINTERVENTIONREVUE-LITTÉRATUREMÉTA-ANALYSE

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