Suicidal prisoners get cellmates

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 01 March, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 01 March, 2008, 12:00am

Prisoners who have tried to kill themselves are not left alone without help in their cells. The Correctional Services Department uses a number of measures to counter suicide attempts, including putting another prisoner in with them.

Prisoners who have attempted suicide were placed on a medical observation list, Stanley Prison chief superintendent Thomas Yeung Ping-wing said.

He said there was normally one prisoner to a cell, but another would be assigned to share the cell if the prisoner was on the observation list, unless the prisoner was violent.

Prisoners on the list are subject to restrictions.

'For example, if they are on the list we would not let them touch sharp articles like scissors at work or do woodwork,' Mr Yeung said, noting that woodwork involved the use of sharp tools.

Mr Yeung said 14 prisoners had tried to commit suicide at Stanley Prison last year, but all had been prevented from doing so.

The most recent case was on December 28 when a 31-year-old prisoner was found hanging from a bed sheet tied to a bar on the window of his cell at about 6am and was saved by prison staff.

Mr Yeung said several suicide-prevention measures were used. These included prison staff collecting information about prisoners through daily observation; talks by section heads with prisoners, in which they were informed of their rights and responsibilities while in jail; and the use of psychological assessments to determine whether prisoners should be put on the medical observation list.

The current medical observation list at Stanley Prison, which is reviewed every month, has about 50 prisoners on it.

Mr Yeung said prison staff were required to arrive within five minutes at the scene of any attempted suicide to provide immediate assistance.

Life preservers

Prison authorities take strong measures to prevent suicides

The number of suicides in Hong Kong prisons per 10,000 inmates in 2006 was: 2.5