• Question: Have you had experiences with prisoners who have been suicidal? How is that dealt with in prisons?

    Asked by Chloe to Sally on 14 Mar 2019.
    • Photo: Sally Tilt

      Sally Tilt answered on 14 Mar 2019:

      Sadly, just as outside prison, some people in prison feel that they want to harm themselves through suicide or other self-harm. If you speak to prison staff most people will say that this is the saddest part of their role – and everyone works really hard to try to stop this happening.
      There are many processes in place to try to keep everyone safe. If a person is feeling low and has self-harmed or is thinking about suicide, a team of people will meet with the person to put together a plan to support them – sometimes this might be finding someone to sit and talk with the person, arranging support from the person’s family, providing them with activities which help them to feel better.
      Prisoners also provide a lot of support to one another, and there are listening schemes in all prisons – in which some prisoners are trained to provide listening support to another prisoner if they are feeling low or suicidal.

      It’s a really tough area – despite all the efforts, over 100 people each year do take their own lives – which is a reminder that we all need to keep working on improving this support. Thanks for asking about this – it is a topic that it is helpful to discuss and let people know about.