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Research Study

In the study by Young, Justice, & Erdberg (2006) male offenders receiving psychiatric treatment were studied to discover the prevalence and relationships in regards to self-injurious behaviors. For this study 242 randomly selected male inmates were chosen. All of these participants were receiving psychiatric treatment in prison at the time they were selected. Each man was administered psychological and neuropsychological evaluations and their treatment was monitored while they were in the prison psychiatric hospital (Young et al., 2006). The participants in this study who harmed themselves were the compared to the participants who did not harm themselves (Young et al., 2006). From this study it was discovered that 18% of these participants harmed themselves severe enough to need medical attention (Young et al., 2006). It was also discovered that inmates who are young, abuse drugs, and who scored high on the antisocial lifestyle section of the Psychopathy Checklist Revised or those who had an Axis II borderline personality disorder were found to harm themselves more than others (Young et al., 2006). These individuals were also found to have a higher likelihood of assaulting staff (Young et al., 2006).

Important for Forensic Psychology Professionals in Correctional Settings

This information is important to forensic psychology professionals working in correctional settings because these factors offer important insight into the risks associated with inmates self-harming and even assaulting prison staff. This information is beneficial to identifying the risk factors for self-harm and the implications associated with treatment can then be suggested. This information gives correctional officers, staff, and forensic psychology professionals a way to identify the inmates who are more likely to hurt themselves. This means that these people can be looked after more and given further psychological and psychiatric services to help decrease the likelihood of them hurting themselves or others. Risk assessments can also be utilized by the forensic psychology professional on these inmates to help further substantiate the possibility of self-injurious behaviors. Some risk assessments that can be utilized for self-injurious or suicidal behaviors are; the Beck Depression Inventory, the Beck Hopelessness Scale, and the Reasons for Attempting Suicide Questionnaire and scales of Internal Perturbation-Based Reasons and Extrapunitive/Manipulative Motivations suicidal behavior or intent (Holden & Kroner, 2003).

Use of These Results by a Forensic Psychology Professional in a Correctional Setting

A forensic psychology professional might use these results to gain a better picture of the prison inmates who have a higher likelihood of self-injuring. The inmates can be cross-referenced upon admission for the associated risk factors and these inmates can then be tested further if necessary for self-injurious and suicidal behaviors but they can also be pin-pointed to receive more psychological and psychiatric services due to their high-risk status. This information can hopefully help reduce the number of self-injuries by prison inmates which would in turn also hopefully reduce prison suicides because at times it is possible that some of these self-injurious behaviors could go too far and end up killing the inmate instead of only inflicting self-injury.


Holden, R. R., & Kroner, D. G. (2003). Differentiating suicidal motivations and manifestations in a forensic sample. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science/Revue Canadienne Des Science Du Comportement, 35(1) 35-44.…

Young, M. H., Justice, J. V., & Erderg, P. (2006). Risk of harm: inmates who harm themselves while in prison psychiatric treatment. Journal of Forensic Sciences, 51(1) 156-162.

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