Suicide Prevention

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We perform 15-minute checks on our potentially suicidal inmates. Is this practice in compliance with the G-05 Suicide Prevention Program standard?

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