PurposeThe purpose of this paper is to investigate the correlates of suicidal ideation in offenders incarcerated in three Belgian prisons.Design/methodology/approachA cross-sectional questionnaire design was used. In total, 60 participants were recruited from three Belgian prisons. In addition to a questionnaire regarding demographic, social, institutional, and criminological factors, validated self-report instruments of psychological and psychiatric variables (coping, hopelessness, and depressive symptomatology) were administered. Associations with suicidal ideation were tested using regression analysis.FindingsCoping style, life events, and social support were most strongly associated with suicidal ideation in prisoners. In particular, a passive coping style, feelings of loneliness, and the loss of a significant other contributed most to the presence of suicidal ideation, whereas a close partner relationship constituted a protective factor of suicidal thoughts.Research limitations/implicationsThis pilot study used a convenience sampling strategy, prone to sampling bias. Additionally, given the small sample size, results must be interpreted with caution, as they might not be representative of the general population of prisoners in Belgium.Practical implicationsInterventions focussing on improving coping skills and social support and on impeding the availability and accessibility of suicide methods are promising suicide prevention strategies in custodial settings.Originality/valueTo date, no studies have been conducted in Belgium focussing on suicidality in prisoners. Furthermore, the examination of suicidal ideation in prison settings has received relatively scant attention in international research.
Journal of Criminal Psychology – Emerald Publishing
Published: Nov 7, 2016
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