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Minerva Medicolegale 2020 March;140(1):16-25

DOI: 10.23736/S0026-4849.20.01783-6

Copyright © 2020 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

language: English

Leaving this world: investigation on self-injurious and suicidal behavior in the correctional facilities of Puglia and Basilicata, Italy

Federica MISCEO 1 , Antonella FANIZZA 1, Libera M. COLLETTA 2, Silvio TAFURI 3, Francesco P. BIANCHI 3, Luigi FERRANNINI 4, Antonello BELLOMO 5, Roberto CATANESI 6, Ignazio GRATTAGLIANO 1

1 Department of Educational Sciences, Psychology and Communication, Aldo Moro University of Bari, Bari, Italy; 2 Istituto di Alta Formazione, Pescara, Italy; 3 Department of Biomedical Sciences and Human Oncology, Aldo Moro University of Bari, Bari, Italy; 4 Italian Association of Psychogeriatrics (AIP), Brescia, Italy; 5 Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Foggia, Foggia, Italy; 6 Section of Criminology and Forensic Psychopathology, Aldo Moro University of Bari, Bari, Italy



BACKGROUND: Our research stems from an eloquent fact: in Italy, detainees commit suicide or self-injury between 9 and 21-fold more frequently than the free population. Suicide and deliberate self-harm are the most common forms of death within detention facilities. A better knowledge of how inmates commit suicide, suicide attempts and self-injury can help operators to develop preventive projects. Moreover, data and reflections upon these phenomena can be used as support for judiciary and social-health operators; they are often the first to cope with these phenomena within penitentiary facilities, and need to adapt their work to insufficient resources when facing this delicate problem.
METHODS: Data were collected through a “Suicide risk assessment form” extrapolated from 88 files on inmates held at the penitentiaries of Trani, Foggia, Matera and the Psychiatry inmates Section of the A.O.U. Policlinico of Bari. Data collected relate to personal data, mental and physical health status and committing suicide attempts (SA) and non-suicidal self-injury acts (NSSI acts).
RESULTS: Data showed that asphyxiation was the method most commonly used for suicide attempts (55%), while wounds inflicted with sharp, cutting weapons were the means most widely used for committing non-suicidal self-injury acts (25%). Concerning mental health status, 81% of our sample have a psychiatric diagnosis. This suggests that psychiatric disorders are an important risk factor for self-inflicted aggressiveness.
CONCLUSIONS: The wide variety of methods used indicates the need to restructure prison spaces and environments to reduce the risk of these phenomena.


KEY WORDS: Suicide; Attempted suicide; Self-injurious behavior; Prisons

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