Coping abilities and prisoners’ perception of suicidal risk management



Power KG, McElroy J & Swanson V (1997) Coping abilities and prisoners’ perception of suicidal risk management. Howard Journal of Criminal Justice, 36 (4), pp. 378-392.

Two hundred prisoners, in Scottish penal establishments, identified ‘at risk' of suicidal behaviour were interviewed. Difficulty coping with imprisonment was associated with previous suicidal behaviour prior to custody, difficulties mixing with other prisoners, fewer friends in prison, previous psychological/psychiatric treatment whilst imprisoned, and history of alcohol-related problems. Level of coping ability was not related to whether or not this was the first time in custody. However, the longer the period currently in custody, the greater the difficulty coping. Prisoners reported the main disadvantages of location on suicidal supervision as sensory deprivation, degrading aspects of the regime, negative emotional effects and social isolation. Benefits reported of the regime included prevention of suicide and self-injury, time for reflection, solitude and protection. Results are discussed in relation to prisoner characteristics, coping abilities and methods of achieving a humane and safe environment for those ‘at risk'.

Howard Journal of Criminal Justice: Volume 36, Issue 4

Publication date30/11/1997

People (1)


Professor Vivien Swanson

Professor Vivien Swanson

Professor, Psychology