Suicide in People With a Criminal Justice

The article under consideration is National study of suicide in all people with a criminal justice history by Webb, R. T., Qin, P., Stevens, H., Mortensen, P. B., Applleby, L., & Shaw, J. published in 2011 February 7 in the online journalArch Gen Psychiatry.

Purpose of the research study, problem, and questions:The purpose of this study was to analyze the suicide rates among the Danish population processed by the national justice system over three decades to find out whether male population is more predetermined for suicide behavior versus females. The problem considered in the study concerned the population that have been criminally charged, though all sentences including those that did not have a guilty sentence, were regarded. The main questions raised in the study included suicide risk for the Danish population over the past three decades and possible relation of the results with the social and health problems of the suicides.

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Importance of the research:It was important to conduct this research because social problems may signal possible health and mental problems. As such, social services are claimed to pay more attention and provide better and more adequate services to those who may potentially display suicide risk. Though similar studies are typical in criminal justice (Marzuk et al., 2002), suicide is more frequently analyzed in the framework of a particular profession or neighborhood.

Analysis of the Article

Design of the study:The design of the study is an important part of the research because it may contribute to the validity and help other researchers replicate the same approaches and the research as a whole. However, it is also necessary to put appropriate questions and interpret data correctly though McLaughlin (2006) claims that, A hypothesis is never proven correct (p. 62). The study design applied in the research by Webb et al. (2011) is the (p. E1). In this respect, is becomes clear that the design is aimed at assessing cases where people committed suicide because the suicide was the only outcome measure for this study. In addition, those people who committed suicide were analyzed in terms of their criminal justice history including all types of sentences and probation terms.

Operational definition:The , Terms used to refer to this process (Hagan, 2010, p. 16). Under the process, researchers mean the study and concepts to be analyzed. In this respect, the main operational definition used in the study by Webb et al. (2011) is the suicide risk because it is the main measure used for the entire study. All people that committed suicide and had criminal justice history of different types were predisposed to suicide risk. As such, social services and health care institutions could have helped those people to overcome anxiety, pressure, and depression they could have possible felt. As a rule, depression can become the cause of suicide while people that are able to commit a crime at any level are believed to have deviations in their mental and emotional health. As a result, external factors contribute greatly to the inner pressure and possible depression and make people commit suicide when they have no one to talk to about their problems to solve them.

Examples in results:The examples in results show that men were more disposed to suicide risk than women and the rates of female population committing suicide were much lower than that of male population that had some criminal justice history.

Inductive logic:No examples of results interpreted using inductive logic were found because the researchers presented all results in parts to gather all components into a single outcome. Moreover, according to the study by Studer (2006), incomplete information can be to inappropriate conclusions made from results of the research.

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Deductive logic:Example of results received using deductive logic can be the major outcomes reported by the authors of the study who claim that criminal justice history can be considered one of the major factors that contribute to the suicide risk on the national level among population.

Quantitative and Qualitative design:The design of the study includes components of the qualitative and quantitative research. The main aspect of the study is the qualitative research because the main hypothesis was aimed at analyzing whether some criminal justice history can be considered a factor that contributes to the suicide risk for population including men and women or not. At the same time, the quantitative component was used to analyze the number of people who committed suicide and had criminal justice history and psychiatric treatment cases. Male and female population was analyzed separately so that the results were interpreted adequately and no controversies occurred.


Methodology was complicated for this case because the researchers had to obtain permission from the Danish Data Protection Agency for conducting this research. As such, it was necessary to take into account all possible factors including seven types of sentences and psychiatric treatment obtained by people who committed suicide. At the same time, control groups were selected to compare the results received from analysis of the cases.

Population:The population was divided into groups. According to the study by Webb et al. (2011), Using the , the 27,219 cases were matched on the date of birth and sex to 524,899 controls who were alive on the date that their matched case died (p. E2). In this respect, male and female population was analyzed separately in order to receive adequate information from the research. In this respect, population was assessed in terms of their criminal justice history in the period of the last three decades for Denmark in order to identify whether population with criminal justice history can be considered more vulnerable in terms of suicide risk or not.

Sampling methods:Sampling methods used for the research included stratified sampling involving specific categories of populations (males and females). Two identified categories were analyzed as independent sub-populations to define specific individual characteristics. This method was beneficial in terms of possibility to estimate the influence connected to particular strata. According to the information provided by Bennett, Briggs, and Triola (2009), the type of statistical study used in the case under discussion was, Retrospective study (sometimes called a case-control study) which is an observational study that uses data from the past such as official records or past interviews to learn about some issue or concern (p. 23). Though sampling is claimed to be an integral part of surveys (Siegel, 2006, p. 30), sampling used in the study by Webb et al. (2011) nested sampling method was used for this retrospective study.

Findings of the study

The section of results included such information as, Prevalence of criminal justice system contact (Webb et al., 2011, p. E3) where male and female suicides that had criminal justice history were analyzed in terms of the level from the overall cohort that committed suicide. As such, 34.8% of men and only 12.8% of women had criminal justice history from all that committed suicides. The next component that was assessed in the study was the, Relative risks with any criminal justice history and by verdict category (Webb et al., 2011, p. E3) where different sentences were taken into account including custodial sentence, suspended sentence, fined, charges withdrawn, psychiatric treatment, acquitted, and any other verdict (p. E3). As a result, multiple verdicts were typical of male population that committed suicide (56.7%). Moreover, Prevalence of secondary care-treated mental illness (Webb et al., 2011, p. E4) was identified and evaluated in suicides from the study. At this point, Almost half of male suicides with a criminal justice history had received secondary care psychiatric treatment compared with three-quarters of women with such history (Webb et al., 2011, p. E4). Finally, the researchers suggest that any criminal justice history can be treated as the factor that contributes to the suicide risk.

Conclusions and recommendations

The study concludes that suicide is a common thing for people who had any type of criminal justice history. One of the main concerns of researchers is that people that are not prisoners or ex-prisoners have high rates of suicide as well as those who have been found guilty and sentenced to prison. Moreover, it is necessary to improve the quality of psychiatric care and work of social services. The authors of the study suggest that people who in psychiatric institutions may be analyzed more thoroughly in terms of predisposition to suicide behavior. Changes in treatment may be positive and l

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