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The United States is plagued by a countless number of social dilemmas Although not in constant public scrutiny suicide is a serious problem which has seemed to have lost importance When suicide is coupled with arrest and incarceration it becomes an increasingly complex situation In fact research indicates that the jail suicide rate ranges from 25 to 13 times greater than the rate of the general population Winkler 1992 Motivation prediction and prevention of suicidal behavior are grossly unclear which only adds to the already existing complexity Many factors involved with arrest and incarceration only serve as a catalyst of suicidal tendencies Suicide is the primary cause of death in this countrys jails In 1986 there were 401 successful jail suicides Winkler 19992 There are many general assumptions made in regard to suicide Most believe suicide to be caused by mental illness such as major depression or bipolar disorder Another belief is that the emotional escalation leading to action takes place over a long period of time Such is not the case in jail suicides Much of the research shows that of all jail suicides occur within the first twenty four hours of incarceration and an overwhelming number of these take place in the first three hours of isolation which is referred to as the crisis period Hess 1987 The crisis period is reflective of arrest and incarceration as producing extreme confusion fear and anxiety The crisis period is also the result of isolation Isolation causes an individual to lose all social support systems Placing an individual in isolation may be a form of protection but this gives the individual an opportunity to concentrate on feelings of hopelessness Winkler 1992 Hopelessness can be defined as the presence of despair and negative feelings about the future Shneidman 1987Isolation can also produce a severe threat to those inmates who have difficulty with coping abilities as this only encourages future deterioration Undoubtedly isolation is often necessary to contain
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