State suicide

Publish date 22-02-2023

by Chiara Genisio

Inside prisons, the suicide rate is 21 times higher than in the rest of society. 2022 is recording a sad record, up to mid-November, there were already 77 prisoners who voluntarily removed themselves since the beginning of the year the life.
An impressive figure, a previous dramatic record dates back to 2009 with 72 people who committed suicide, but at the time the prison population was less than now by about 7 thousand people.

Another tragic figure concerns the cases of female prisoners: so far there have been five. With a rate higher than that of men, equal to almost 22%. About 50% of suicide cases were then committed by people of foreign origin.
If about a third of the inmate population is foreign, the incidence of those who killed themselves is significantly higher among these inmates.

The prisons of Foggia and Milano San Vittore remain the two institutions with the highest number of cases during the year. Followed by those of Rome Regina Coeli, Monza, Florence Sollicciano, Turin and Palermo Ucciardone.
The complaint was formulated by Antigone, the association that monitors conditions inside prisons, in early November and was based on 74 suicides, a figure which immediately increased within a few days, registering in just one day mid-November two new cases.
How can a democratic society continue to ignore this situation? For years there has been talk, and then it has not materialized in actions, of reform of the prison system. The previous Minister of Justice, Marta Cartabia, had underlined the need to start restorative justice. The hope is that this good intuition will not be lost.

Meanwhile, the newspaper Il Dubbio has launched a petition on «Let's stop the massacre of suicides in prison. Here and now… You can!» which in a few days has collected thousands of accessions. In addition to the denunciation, it also contains simple and immediate proposals to stop what is called "state suicide".
How to increase phone calls for prisoners.
It is sufficient to amend the prison regulation of 2000, according to which each inmate (excluding those who cannot communicate with the outside world) has the right to only one telephone call a week, for a maximum of ten minutes; raise the 45 foreseen per semester for early release to 75 days.
And again: creating spaces to be dedicated to family members who want to be in contact with their loved ones in prison to enhance affection. Increase staff for mental and physical health. In almost all institutions there is a serious shortage of psychiatrists and psychologists.

Chiara Genisio
NP December 2022

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