An epidemiologic study of alcohol and suicide risk in Ohio jails and lockups, 1975-1984

Mark S. Davis, Joshua E. Muscat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


This article reports a population-based study of jail and lockup suicides in Ohio. Jails are facilities that hold inmates for periods that are usually longer than 48 hours, and they are administered by local, city, and country authorities. Lockups house persons for less than 48 hours; they include drunk tanks. Demographic information and criminal arrest records for 228 cases of suicide occuring between 1975 and 1985 were obtained from death certificates and local jail records. Two-hundred and fifteen cases were male (94 percent), 177 were white (78 percent), and the mean age was 28 years. The estimated suicide rate for males in Ohio jails for 1983 was 3.1 per 100, 000, although rates varied by country. The rate for lockups could not be determined. The most frequent method of suicide in these jails was hanging (98 percent) by articles of clothing, belts, or bedding. Over 40 percent of the cases had been arrested for alcohol-related crimes. These cases were significantly more likely to commit suicide within the first 24 hours of incarceration than other cases (relative risk = 6.9, 95 percent CI = 3.1-15.4). Among those cases committing suicide within the first 24 hours after admission, intoxicated cases committed suicide significantly more quickly than other cases (9.0 ± 1.6 hours, versus 16.8 ± 1.3 hours).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)277-283
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Criminal Justice
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1993

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law


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