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 Blog Post

Camp Hill Raises Awareness for Suicide Prevention

Tags: Camp Hill
September 26, 2019 12:00 AM
By: Elicia Stein, SCI Camp Hill Licensed Psychologist Manager

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September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, which is a very relevant and important topic for us to bring to light. In 2018, there were eight PA DOC staff members who committed suicide. Corrections officers are at a 39 percent higher risk to commit suicide than non-corrections officers; in Pennsylvania, the DOC suicide rate is almost three times that of our state's per-capita rate. One recent study done in New Jersey found that the rate for white female CO's is 200 percent higher than the general population. An estimated 23-30 percent of COs have been formally diagnosed with depression and 26-30 percent with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). These rates are roughly three times higher than those for the general population. Both diagnoses of depression and PTSD make someone more likely to attempt suicide. For someone with a military background (which many of our staff have), these numbers are even higher.

Not only have many of us been personally affected in some way by suicide, but it is also extremely relevant to our roles in corrections. The rate of inmate deaths via suicide continues to rise within the state prison system. In 2018, 15 inmates committed suicide within the Pennsylvania DOC and there have been 11 already this year.

To bring awareness to Camp Hill, this month has been devoted to staff and inmate wellness. Staff events and activities have been scheduled throughout the month which included a pizza and potluck fundraiser and guest speaker.  Staff from the facility's Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) team, C.O.V.E.R. and the Psychology Department have been on hand to speak with staff and provide handouts, which included a quiz to assess our own wellness and self-care information.  Additionally, Govan Martin from Prevent Suicide PA, shared a presentation with staff and inmates.

Everyone's mental health is a priority. Remember that good self-care and seeking support when needed are keys to working in the corrections environment

Our pizza and potluck fundraiser were a success and we were able to raise over $700.00 to donate to Mission 22 to help prevent veteran suicide.

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