Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Suicide in recently released prisoners: a case-control study

  • D. Pratt (a1), L. Appleby (a1), M. Piper (a1), R. Webb (a1) and J. Shaw (a1)...

Recently released prisoners are at markedly higher risk of suicide than the general population. The aim of this study was to identify key risk factors for suicide by offenders released from prisons in England and Wales.


All suicides committed by offenders within 12 months of their release from prison in England and Wales, between 2000 and 2002, were identified. One control matched on gender and date of release from prison was recruited for each case. Univariate and multivariate logistic regression modelling identified key independent risk factors for suicide.


Of 256 920 released prisoners, 384 suicides occurred within a year of release. Factors significantly associated with post-release suicide were increasing age over 25 years, released from a local prison, a history of alcohol misuse or self-harm, a psychiatric diagnosis, and requiring Community Mental Health Services (CMHS) follow-up after release from prison. Non-white ethnicity and a history of previous imprisonment were protective factors.


There is a need to improve the continuity of care for people who are released from prison and for community health, offender and social care agencies to coordinate care for these vulnerable individuals.

Corresponding author
*Address for correspondence: J. Shaw, F.R.C.Psych, Centre for Suicide Prevention, School of Community-Based Medicine, 2nd Floor, Jean McFarlane Building, University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PL, UK. (Email:
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

IA Binswanger , MF Stern , RA Deyo , PJ Heagerty , A Cheadle , JG Elmore , TD Koepsell (2007). Release from prison – a high risk of death for former inmates. New England Journal of Medicine 356, 157165.

J Bogue , K Power (1995). Suicide in Scottish prisons, 1976–1993. Journal of Forensic Psychiatry 6, 527540.

E Dooley (1990). Prison suicide in England and Wales 1972–87. British Journal of Psychiatry 156, 4045.

N Freudenberg , J Daniels , M Crum , T Perkins , BE Richie (2005). Coming home from jail: the social and health consequences of community reentry for women, male adolescents, and their families and communities. American Journal of Public Health 95, 17251736.

S Fruehwald , P Frottier , T Matschnig , F König , P Bauer (2004). Suicide in custody: a case-control study, British Journal of Psychiatry 185, 494498.

JR Goss , K Peterson , LW Smith , K Kalb , BB Brodey (2002). Characteristics of suicide attempts in a large urban jail system with an established suicide prevention program. Psychiatric Services 53, 574579.

EC Harris , B Barraclough (1997). Suicide as an outcome for mental disorders; a meta-analysis. British Journal of Psychiatry 170, 205228.

DW Hosmer , S Lemeshow (2000). Applied Logistic Regression, 2nd edn.Wiley-Interscience: New York.

M Joukamaa (1998). The mortality of released Finnish prisoners: a 7 year follow-up study of the WATTU project. Forensic Sciences International 96, 1119.

EA King (2001). The Wessex suicide audit 1988–1993: a study of 1457 suicides with and without a recent psychiatric contact. International Journal of Psychiatry and Clinical Practice 5, 111118.

T Lincoln , S Kennedy , R Tuthill , C Roberts , TJ Conklin , TM Hammett (2006). Facilitators and barriers to continuing healthcare after jail: a community-integrated program. Journal of Ambulatory Care Management 29, 2–16.

J Neeleman , S Wessley (1997). Changes in classification of suicide in England and Wales: time trends and association with coroners' professional background. Psychological Medicine 27, 467472.

LM Stewart , CJ Henderson , MST Hobbs , SC Ridout , MW Knuiman (2004). Risk of death in prisoners after release from jail. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health 28, 3236.

MM Winter (2003). County jail suicides in a midwestern state: moving beyond the use of profiles. The Prison Journal 83, 130148.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Psychological Medicine
  • ISSN: 0033-2917
  • EISSN: 1469-8978
  • URL: /core/journals/psychological-medicine
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 15
Total number of PDF views: 69 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 353 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 20th July 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.