American Indian Suicides in Jail

American Indian Suicides in Jail

Can Risk Screening Be Culturally Sensitive?

Book - 2005
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Culture can affect how inmates view suicide and, consequently, how they react to authorities' attempts to assess their risk for suicide. In a county detention center in a Northern Plains State where American Indians are the dominant cultural minority in both the jail and the community at large, the jail administrator became concerned about the extent of suicidal behavior in the facility and asked researchers to help find the reason. Discomfort with the interview process appeared to be the major reason the detainees were not candid in answering questions in the suicide risk assessment. American Indians were less open in answering questions about health and use of drugs and alcohol. The wording of the questions and the setting of the interview seemed to have more of an effect than the nature of the questions. The researchers found that the American Indian concept of mental illness may cause them to interpret questions about this condition differently, and that a relationship of trust with the interviewer may produce more openness. The findings suggest that suicide risk assessment protocols tailored to the cultural backgrounds of detainee populations might be more effective than an impersonally administered one-size-fits-all approach. In view of American Indians' high incarceration rate and risk for suicide, their experiences could be used to design more culturally sensitive risk assessment protocols.
Publisher: Washington, DC : U.S. Dept. of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, National Institute of Justice, [2005]
Branch Call Number: DOC J 28.38:IN 3
Characteristics: ii, 9 pages ; 23 cm


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