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Suicide rates in prisons in England and Wales are high, including those in juvenile detention centers. Previous deliberate self-harm (DSH) is the strongest predictor of suicide in the general population. There is limited information on how many juvenile offenders (15 to 18 year-olds) have a history of DSH at the time of entering custody, or on factors associated with previous DSH. We aimed to determine the prevalence of previous DSH and suicidal ideation in a population of juvenile offenders in custody and to identify factors associated with DSH and suicidal ideation. Seven out of 45 subjects (15.6%) reported an act of DSH in the past. Twelve (26.6%) reported past suicidal ideation. Peer relationship difficulties and sexual abuse were significantly associated with DSH (p < 0.05). Other factors showed a trend toward being more common among those with DSH, but the premature ending of the project by the juvenile detention center prevented full investigation of the extent of DSH and associated factors. Nevertheless, the results indicated a much higher rate of DSH in this population than in young males in the community. A larger joint project with juvenile detention centers is required to confirm the extent of previous DSH at the time young offenders are admitted, and the associated risk factors, in order to assist prevention and intervention strategies.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





8 - 11


Adolescent, Female, Humans, Juvenile Delinquency, Male, Prevalence, Prisoners, Risk Factors, Self-Assessment, Suicide, Attempted