Prison suicides spike in Britain with 55,000 lags self-harming last year

Suicides jumped 33% last year, while incidents of self-harm rose by 25%, according to the new stats.

A total of 92 prisoners took their own lives in 2018, and 55,598 harmed themselves – the highest levels of self-harm ever recorded in prisons.

In 2017, the figure for self-inflicted deaths was 69 – up from a high of 115 the previous year.

Ministry of Justice figures found 23% of men and 46% of women in custody have attempted suicide at some point in their lives compared with 6% of the general population.

IAP chairwoman Juliet Lyon said: “Instead of receiving treatment in the community, why are so many people with serious mental health needs still locked in bleak prison cells?

“This is by no means a new problem. The high toll of deaths in custody damages all those involved – from individual tragedies to bereaved families, sentencers who pass judgment to staff who have a duty of care.

“There are humane, professional solutions.

“This survey and our recommendations set out how improvements in communication and information-sharing, partnerships between health and justice and proper availability of mental healthcare across communities can save lives.”

John Bache, national chairman of the Magistrates Association, said: “This report underlines the need to have robust and effective community sentences available as an alternative to custody for vulnerable offenders in every area of the country, which is simply not the case at present, as custody can bring disproportionate risks of self-harm or suicide for these people.”

For confidential support call the Samaritans in the UK free on 116 123 or visit a local Samaritans branch

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