Suicide risk rises after criminal encounters: study

February 7, 2011

People who have had run-ins with the law, even if they were never jailed, show a higher risk of committing suicide, said a study released Monday.

The research, published in the , a journal of the American Medical Association, examined records in Denmark and found that the risk of was highest among people who did time behind bars.

But the study authors also determined that suicide risk was "elevated even among those who had never received prison time or a guilty verdict," when compared to people who had never been exposed to the .

"Suicide was most strongly associated with sentencing to and with charges conditionally withdrawn," or suspended sentences, the study said.

British researchers examined the records of 27,219 people in Denmark who died from suicide between 1981 and 2006 and compared them to a control group of 524,899 people who were alive but otherwise matched them by age and sex.

Then, they linked those records to data from a national registry of criminals to determine which individuals were exposed to the justice system after 1980.

More than a third (34.8 percent) of the men who died by killing themselves had a history with the criminal justice system, compared to almost one-quarter (24.6 percent) in the control group.

Among women, 12.8 percent of those of died by suicide had criminal encounters, compared to 5.1 percent of the control group.

"The risk of suicide was especially high among those with a criminal history who were younger, who had been charged for violent offenses and whose contact with the criminal justice system was recent or repeated," it said.

The study said that because suicide risk appeared to mount in relation to the number of times a person had contact with the criminal justice system, and how recent those encounters were, they believe that the research was not simply reflecting trends among people who were more likely to be troublemakers.

"Exposure to the criminal justice system in itself may contribute to elevating a person's , rather than simply reflecting the traits and characteristics of people who come into contact with the system," it said.

The study was led by Roger Webb of the University of Manchester.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Probing how Americans think about mental life

October 20, 2017
When Stanford researchers asked people to think about the sensations and emotions of inanimate or non-human entities, they got a glimpse into how those people think about mental life.

Itsy bitsy spider: Fear of spiders and snakes is deeply embedded in us

October 19, 2017
Snakes and spiders evoke fear and disgust in many people, even in developed countries where hardly anybody comes into contact with them. Until now, there has been debate about whether this aversion is innate or learnt. Scientists ...

Dutch courage—Alcohol improves foreign language skills

October 18, 2017
A new study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, conducted by researchers from the University of Liverpool, Maastricht University and King's College London, shows that bilingual speakers' ability to speak a second ...

Inflamed support cells appear to contribute to some kinds of autism

October 18, 2017
Modeling the interplay between neurons and astrocytes derived from children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine, with colleagues in Brazil, say innate ...

Study suggests psychedelic drugs could reduce criminal behavior

October 18, 2017
Classic psychedelics such as psilocybin (often called magic mushrooms), LSD and mescaline (found in peyote) are associated with a decreased likelihood of antisocial criminal behavior, according to new research from investigators ...

Taking probiotics may reduce postnatal depression

October 18, 2017
Researchers from the University of Auckland and Otago have found evidence that a probiotic given in pregnancy can help prevent or treat symptoms of postnatal depression and anxiety.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.