More Suicides ? Whose Responsibility?

Diana Block
Over the past 18 months, there have been six attempted suicides at CCWF, four of which were successful. In a recent memo to CCWF prisoners, Warden Patrick assures prisoners that there are mental health professionals available for anyone who needs help. The reality is that at least one of the young women who recently committed suicide approached staff with an urgent request to see a mental health professional but was turned away.
Many factors contribute to the increasing suicide rate:
* Drastic overcrowding which makes it almost impossible for anybody to find inner or outer peace.
* Longer sentences for young prisoners, depriving them of all hope
* Change in the HMO providing prisoners with services resulting in denial of necessary psychiatric medications
* Lack of access to timely, adequate, responsive mental health services
When prisoners want to take their own lives, when they have lost the will to live, it is not just a personal problem. It is a sign of dysfunction within the institution and the entire prison system.
Worsening conditions at CCWF and within California?s criminal legal system as a whole are the fundamental cause for the increase in suicides.