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Abstract

Purpose: This integrative literature review seeks to describe efficacious treatment interventions for incarcerated persons demonstrating intentional self-harming and/or suicidal behaviors. The paper defines the types of intentional self-harming behaviors and summarizes data on the prevalence and severity of self-harm and suicidal behaviors among this population.

Significance: Suicide, the leading cause of offender death in United States’ jails from 2000 to 2013, accounts for 34% of all jail deaths in 2013. Offender self-harm, particularly among males was associated with repeated intentional self-harming behaviors, younger age, mental illness and solitary confinement.

Methods: Inclusion criteria include: published in peer review journals; sample include any gender and age; and English language or English translation articles. Five databases were examined. Ten systematic or integrative literature reviews were evaluated by two researchers independently for quality using the Revised Version of a Measurement Tool to Assess Systematic Reviews (R-AMSTAR).

Results: Four reviews were retained for synthesis. Five of 32 studies found within these reviews note statistically significant decreases in self-harming and/or suicidal behaviors in detained offender participants. Three interventions/treatments emerged as efficacious: staff training, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy.

Conclusion: There was an emphasis on preventing self-harming behaviors among offenders with personality disorder. Evidence was provided that female offenders diagnosed with Bi-polar Disorder showed greater reduction in self-harming behavior than male counterparts. Insufficient information was available for examination of age effect.

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