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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 42 (2000) 2, 73 - 83

New research

Harassment, threats and suicidality in penal institutions

E. Blaauw, M. van der Voort, A.J.F.M. Kerkhof

background Research of Blaauw and Kerkhof identified 16 indicators of increased suicide risk among prisoners. These indicators suggest that the high rates of suicidal behavior in penal institutions are the result of exposure of vulnerable people to a stressful situation. As a result, a relationship can be expected between harassment, threats and suicidality in penal institutions.
aims To investigate whether the person-related indicators, that were identified by Blaauw and Kerkhof, are associated with reports of harassment and threats.
methods In this study, dossiers of 95 suicide victims were checked for reports of harassment and threats. In addition, interviews were held with 221 prisoners with low suicide risk and with 53 prisoners with high suicide risk.
results 34 percent of the reports mentioned that the suicide victim had felt threatened and/or harassed. Threats and harassment were more common among prisoners with a high suicide risk than among prisoners with a low suicide risk. Relationships were also found between threats and harassment on the one hand and risk factors for suicide on the other hand.
conclusion It is concluded that harassment and threats are related to suicide risk among prisoners.

keywords harassment, penal institutions, suicide, threats