Suicide Prevention Program - National Commission on Correctional Health Care
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Suicide Prevention Program

The compliance indicator specifically states that “nonacutely suicidal inmates are monitored by facility staff at unpredictable intervals with no more than 15 minutes between checks.” Surveyors review monitoring logs to ensure monitoring times are staggered and unpredictable and that the monitoring does not go beyond 15 minutes. Your facility is out of compliance because you are monitoring nonacutely suicidal inmates precisely every 15 minutes. Monitoring at precise intervals allows the inmate to understand the pattern of checks, which is why the standard supports unpredictable and staggered times not to exceed 15 minutes. For additional information regarding suicide prevention and intervention, please see the discussion section for B-05 in the jail standards book.

— From CorrectCare Volume 35, Issue 1, Spring 2021

Nonacutely suicidal (potentially or inactive) inmates are those who express current suicidal ideation and/or have a recent prior history of self-destructive behavior. These inmates should be monitored on an unpredictable schedule with no more than 15 minutes between checks (e.g., 5, 10, 7 minutes).

To answer your question, we would need clarification on a couple of points: what you mean by “15-minute checks” and who completes the checks. If the observation is occurring regularly every 15 minutes, this is not in compliance with the standard. The idea is to check on the nonacutely suicidal inmate at irregular, unpredictable intervals, with no more than 15 minutes in between each check (see compliance indicator #1d). If the nonacutely suicidal inmate is placed in isolation, then constant observation is required. In addition, the monitoring must be done by staff.

Other supervision aids (e.g., closed circuit television, inmate companions or watchers) can be used to supplement but never substitute for staff monitoring.

— From CorrectCare Volume 32, Issue 2, Spring 2017