SUICIDE RISK AND MENTAL HEALTH CO-MORBIDITIES IN A COMMUNITY DWELLING PROBATIONER POPULATION

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2013-04-12

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Cardarelli, Roberto

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Abstract

Purpose: Suicide is a leading cause of death in the United States with mental health disorders constituting an important predictor of suicidal ideation, attempt, and death. Mental health problems are disproportionately represented in the community corrections system. Despite this, there is limited information on the epidemiology of mental health and correlated factors such as suicide among probationers, the largest population supervised by the criminal justice system. The purpose of this study was to assess the prevalence of mental health disorders in a community-dwelling probationer population and its association with suicide risk. Methods: A purposive sample of 2,077 probationers completed an assessment to screen for mental health disorders, substance use disorders, suicide risk, and demographic characteristics. Simple and multiple logistic regression were performed to assess the association between mental health screening status and suicide risk. Study procedures where IRB approved by the UNTHSC IRB (IRB # 2009-006). Results: Over 13% of probationers in this study were at high risk of suicide. After adjusting for potential confounding effects, females were approximately two times more likely to screen positive for suicide risk. Moreover, those who screened positive for substance abuse disorders were over two times more likely to screen positive for suicide risk. Probationers who screened positive for ADHD, anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, and depression were between 2 to 8 times more likely to screen positive for suicide risk. Conclusions: Probationary status can prompt clinicians to further assess potential mental health conditions due to high rates of mental health concerns in this population. Appropriate mental health treatment and referral additionally provides a clinical means of addressing the high risk of suicide among probationers. Future studies should examine points of access to health care for probationers and how clinicians can become more involved in addressing the mental healthcare of community dwelling offenders.

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