Suicide in Mexican Prisons: Mental Health Symptomology and Risk Factors for Suicidal Ideation and Suicidal Behavior

AuthorJuan J. Barthelemy,Natalia Giraldo-Santiago,Luis R. Torres,Lindamarie Olson,Robin E. Gearing,Berenice Pérez-Ramírez
Date01 December 2021
Published date01 December 2021
DOI10.1177/00328855211060319
Subject MatterArticles
Suicide in Mexican
Prisons: Mental Health
Symptomology and Risk
Factors for Suicidal
Ideation and Suicidal
Behavior
Berenice Pérez-Ramírez
1
,
Juan J. Barthelemy
2
,
Robin E. Gearing
2
,
Lindamarie Olson
2
,
Natalia Giraldo-Santiago
2
,
and Luis R. Torres
3
Abstract
In Mexico, suicide and suicidal behaviors (SB) have increased 275% since
1990. Prisoners constitute a growing population in Mexico and have been
identied as high suicide risk. Using a sample of 194 male prisoners, we mea-
sure what demographics and mental health symptomology are associated
with suicidal ideation (SI) and SB, and identify what demographics and mental
health symptomology predict SI and SB. Global Severity and Adverse
Childhood Experiences (ACEs) were signicant predictors of experiencing
SI, whereas global severity, ACEs, and age were signicant predictors of
experiencing SB. Findings support increased identication and comprehen-
sive mental health services addressing suicidality in prisons.
1
Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico, Mexico City, Mexico
2
University of Houston, Houston, TX, USA
3
The University of Texas, Edinburg, TX, USA
Corresponding Author:
Robin E. Gearing, University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, MH-RITES Research
Center, 3511 Cullen Blvd, 110HA, Houston, TX 77204, USA.
Email: rgearing@uh.edu.
Article
The Prison Journal
2021, Vol. 101(6) 675698
© 2021 SAGE Publications
Article reuse guidelines:
sagepub.com/journals-permissions
DOI: 10.1177/00328855211060319
journals.sagepub.com/home/tpj
Keywords
suicide, prisoners, mental health, Mexico
Introduction
Suicide and suicide-related behaviors are a signicant and growing global
public health concern (Brenes, 2019). An estimated 800,000 people a year
die by suicide, with 79% occurring in low- and middle-income countries
(WHO, 2019). Criminal justice system involvement is a risk factor for
suicide (Webb et al., 2011), with suicide rates being 39 times more prevalent
in prison populations than in the general population (Fazel et al., 2017).
Among male prisoners in many high-income countries, suicide rates are 5
8 times higher than in the general community (Fazel et al., 2011), and
30%50% of all deaths in custody are attributed to suicide (Alonzo &
Gearing, 2018; Rivlin et al., 2013). Adult suicides within custodial settings
remain a leading cause of death worldwide (Fazel & Baillargeon, 2011;
Konrad et al., 2007; Rabe, 2012), and the leading cause of death for juveniles
in prison (Casiano et al., 2016; Roberts & Bender, 2006). Thus, the public
health goal of reducing the number of prison suicides has been highlighted
as an international priority (WHO, 2007).
In Mexico, suicide and suicidal behaviors (SBs) have increased by 275%
over the past 30 years (Borges et al., 2010). In Mexico City, rates of suicide
increased by 14.30% between 2000 and 2014 (Romero-Pimentel et al., 2018).
Prisoners constitute a rapidly growing population in Mexico and have been
identied as being at high risk of suicide. However, limited research has
been conducted on the identication and treatment of SI and SB among
this prison population.
Suicidal Ideation (SI) Versus SB
SI refers to thoughts of wanting to end ones life by suicide and may or may
not be associated with methods, intent, or a plan. In contrast, SB refers to the
act of doing something that could end ones life, such as collecting pills,
obtaining a gun, or cutting yourself. SI is a signicant risk factor for subse-
quent SB (Castellví, et al., 2017; Franklin, et al., 2017; Hubers, et al.,
2016;Nock et al., 2008; Ribeiro et al., 2016; Rossom et al., 2017).
Identication and knowledge of SI provide early prevention opportunities
(Gooding et al., 2013; Sveticic & De Leo, 2012), as only a small number
of those contemplating suicide actually engage in SB (Nock et al., 2008;
ten Have et al., 2009).
676 The Prison Journal 101(6)

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT