A Brown University psychiatrist plans to test an intervention to prevent suicide among hundreds of Rhode Island inmates.
Brown and Michigan State Universities are sharing a $6.8 million dollar federal grant to test the idea that developing a safety plan with an inmate before leaving jail can reduce the risk of suicide. Brown psychiatrist Lauren Weinstock says people behind bars are already more likely to struggle with mental illness or substance abuse.
“And then you’re adding an additional layer of stress to their lives, which is around arrest and jail detention, which can then further trigger risk for suicide.”
Weinstock says she’ll recruit about 500 inmates in Rhode Island and 300 from a prison in Michigan. Half will get the intervention, which includes meeting with a counselor and follow up phone sessions. Half will receive the usual care in and out of prison. Research suggests that nationally about 10 percent of all suicides involve people who served jail time.