Self-harm in Western Australian prisons: differences between prisoners who have self-harmed and those who have not
Sage Publications Ltd
Faculty of Computing, Health and Science
School of Psychology
This is the second of two studies that examined self-harm in Western Australian prisons. Data were collected from 71 prisoners who had self-harmed in the previous three days and 71 comparison prisoners for whom there was no evidence of ever having self-harmed in prison. The groups were matched on age, sex, race, custodial status (remanded or sentenced) and placement within the prison. Measures across three –domains (personal background, perceptions of the prison experience and psychological functioning) were administered in a structured interview. The self-harm group reported a significantly greater level of distress, disorder or vulnerability on almost every measure. On no measure did they report lower distress or dysfunction. Two main implications for preventing self-harm are discussed. First, prison authorities need to develop more effective methods for identifying distressed prisoners. Second, strategies should be implemented to minimize prisoners' vulnerability to distress.