Prison Suicides

Tragically, suicides in prisons are common in this country. There may be many reasons for prison suicides, including brutal or torturous prison conditions, the apparent hopelessness of a prisoner’s situation, mental health issues, torture, taunting or teasing by guards or other inmates, or a whole host of other issues.

Jails and prisons have a duty to prevent prison suicides. Where does this duty come from? It comes from the U.S. Constitution, more specifically from the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.

There are two main types of duties that relate to prison suicides. First, no prison, no correctional officer or staff, no prison doctor or other health care provider, has the right to be “deliberately indifferent” to the risk of suicide. In other words, prison officials cannot look the other way in the face of the risk that an inmate will commit suicide. Corrections staff have a duty to care for prisoners, since the prisoners cannot care for themselves. Suicidal prisoners, like other suicidal people, frequently tell people they are considering killing or hurting themselves. Sometimes prisoners tell corrections officials directly that they will commit suicide. Sometimes other prisoners tell correctional officers about suicidal threats by other inmates. Unfortunately, all too often, prison officials ignore these threats. When they ignore such threats of suicide, correctional officials are being “deliberately indifferent” to the possibility that a prisoner will commit suicide. When correctional officers are deliberately indifferent, they are responsible for the harm that occurs.

Prisons and jails also have another duty to prisoners. That duty is to provide appropriate medical care to prisoners. That medical care includes appropriate psychological and psychiatric care. If the medical department or psychology department of a jail ignores the medical or psychological needs of an inmate, those officials, including doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists and other staff may be deliberately indifferent to the serious psychological needs of the inmate. If that deliberate indifference leads to suicide or other serious injury, the staff are responsible. Such staff might also be responsible for medical malpractice, psychiatric malpractice, psychological malpractice, or malpractice in other related fields.

The Dyller Law Firm has successfully handled numerous prison suicide cases. They are difficult cases, involving extensive expertise. Most law firms do not have the expertise to handle prison suicide cases. The Dyller Law Firm has the expertise, the experience and the resources to evaluate and litigate prison suicide cases. Call the Dyller Law Firm. We will evaluate your case at no charge, and if there was wrongdoing, deliberate indifference or malpractice, we will be honored to represent you.

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