Suicide Prevention Resources
NCCHC is the only organization in the country dedicated to improving the quality of health care in jails, prisons and juvenile detention facilities, and we regard the problem of suicide behind bars as one of the most serious challenges in the field. To help address this, we outline requirements for a comprehensive, multipronged suicide prevention and intervention program in our Standards for Health Services.
The standards identify 13 components to an effective program: training, identification, referral, evaluation, treatment, housing, monitoring, communication, intervention, notification, reporting, review and debriefing. Collectively, those components point to key areas of importance.
- All staff must be aware of the warning signs of suicide; ongoing training is essential to increase awareness.
- Effective assessment practices must be in place to help ensure that potentially suicidal individuals are identified, monitored and treated as quickly as possible.
- Effective referral and communication procedures must be understood by all stakeholders (e.g., health and mental health staff, correctional officers, community health care agencies and providers), who also must know their role in the referral/treatment process.
- When a suicide occurs, the precipitating factors must be investigated in an effort to avoid future suicides.
NCCHC's suicide prevention standards are posted here in their entirety: The text is the same in the manuals for jails and prisons; the manual for juvenile detention and confinement facilities has additional information and requirements for this population. Importantly, the standards are meant to work together as a whole, and issues related to suicide prevention are addressed in other standards (for example, Receiving Screening, Procedure in the Event of an Inmate Death).
- J-B-05 Suicide Prevention and Intervention (jails, 2018)
- P-B-05 Suicide Prevention and Intervention (prisons, 2018)
- Y-G-05 Suicide Prevention Program (juvenile facilities, 2015)
NCCHC and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention have teamed up to create an authoritative guide to preventing inmate suicide in jails and prisons. Based on both organizations’ expertise, with input from national experts in the field of correctional mental health and suicide prevention, this resource will provide a road map for navigating the complexities of suicide prevention behind bars – and can help save lives. The Suicide Prevention Resource Guide will be released in October 2019.
More Guidance and Information
- NCCHC Position Statement: Prevention of Juvenile Suicide in Correctional Settings
Note: A position statement on reducing suicide through risk screening in adult correctional settings is in development.
- Guide to Developing and Revising Suicide Prevention Protocols Within Jails and Prisons (former Standards appendix)
- Creating a Culture of Recovery: Trauma-Informed Principles for Suicide Risk Management (webinar)
- Controversial Issues in Suicide Prevention (CorrectCare article)
- Psychological Autopsy or Reconstruction (former Standards appendix)
- NCCHC's National Conference on Correctional Health Care (Oct. 12-16 in Fort Lauderdale) offers education on suicide prevention. In addition to several concurrent sessions, these preconference seminars will be highly useful. Visit the conference website for details.
› An In-Depth Look at NCCHC’s 2018 Standards for Jails
› An In-Depth Look at NCCHC’s 2018 Standards for Prisons
› An In-Depth Look at NCCHC’s 2015 Standards for Mental Health Services
› Principles for a Viable Suicide Prevention Program
Need Immediate Assistance?
NCCHC Resources, our organization’s consulting arm, is available to help correctional facilities strengthen policies, procedures and practices surrounding suicide prevention and intervention. Write to email@example.com for information.
A Note to the Media
NCCHC cannot comment on any specific facility, company or situation. If you have questions on how to interpret the suicide prevention standards posted above, you may write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
The Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It also provides best practices for professionals. 1-800-273-8255