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We investigated the circumstances and psychological processes involved in the near-lethal self-harm acts of 60 women prisoners, using qualitative and quantitative methods. Most incidents involved hanging or ligaturing and high levels of suicidal ideation, and were attributable to individual and prison-related factors. Half of the incidents were described as impulsive, but mostly occurred against a background of longer-term suicidality and multiple repeated attempts. Hopelessness and images of past trauma were common in the lead-up to the acts. These findings have implications for prevention of suicidal behaviour in female prisoners. © 2011 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of Forensic Psychiatry and Psychology

Publication Date





863 - 884