From Inside Supermax: Suicide in Prison (17 of 18)

How common is suicide? What kind of inmate is most likely to commit suicide? How are they able to do it with security cameras, guards and other inmates around?

Suicide is not very common in here due to the stigma of it being “weak”. It happens. I had a friend hang himself here in CSP and I’ve personally known a few others, but I don’t know the frequency (some overdoses are intentional, so the real numbers are hard to determine).

Most of the guys who kill themselves are either mentally unstable or just can’t face the rest of their lives living like this. My friend who killed himself assaulted a nurse through the tray slot when she threatened to take away his medical treatment and he was doing life so he was facing many years in the hole, many months on loss of privileges, and trying to get by on $2.50 a month or less to buy toothpaste, soap, shampoo, etc. (He only got $5 a month indigency pay and they took most of that for “restitution” for grabbing the nurse’s arm and yanking it). Add to that that his aunt who raised him as a mom had just died and it was too much for him to face.

Another suicide I knew was a kid who raped, killed and burned a little Mexican girl and was facing a lifetime of being a target of Hispanic inmates. Death was an easier prospect.

Suicide is the easiest thing to do and short of strapping us down there is no way to prevent it. I know a guy who chewed out the veins in his wrist to try and kill himself and only lived because he got scared and called the guards on the cell intercom. The vents in the cells are designed to make it difficult to string a noose through them but plenty of people find a way. Then people break their razor blades and cut themselves with the razor. This even happened in Supermax but since showers are only 20 minutes long, they are discovered before death. Some save up medication and try to O.D. on it, but heroin is easier. People talk of taking that “hot shot” as the only way to go.

The sad thing is that if an inmate sees another inmate trying to kill himself, nothing will be done. Many inmates are sadistic and will watch to get a kick out of it. Others will do nothing because it is “none of their business” (which is a big rule in prison society). If an inmate tells a cop that a guy is trying to kill himself he is labeled a snitch and victimized, doing that is suicidal in an of itself! This is a sick and despairing world in here. I can see why those without hope would rather die than go on being subjected to it. Suicide is a selfish act and self-centered people in such a miserable environment have no reason not to do it when there is more bad than good to live for.



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