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Abstract

Suicide was the leading cause of unnatural deaths in local jails, accounting for 29% of all jail deaths between 2000 and 2007. Though much literature exists on suicide in jails, very little is qualitative. Additionally, little attention has been focused on how the Interpersonal Theory of Suicide applies to the jail environment. To gain a better understanding of suicide in jails, an interpretive meta-synthesis of three qualitative articles was conducted. The combined sample included thirty-four individuals from three jails. These three articles were analyzed to identify common themes that led inmates to suicide. Three broad categories were identified through constant comparison of the data. These categories are: mental health factors, environmental conditions, and relationship issues. These three broad categories are discussed in relation to the Interpersonal Theory of Suicide, demonstrating its application in the jail setting. This information is essential for correctional facilities and staff for use in their day-to-day interactions with inmates. Future research is needed to identify and examine current suicide prevention programs in the United States penal system.

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