California reports highest number of prison suicides in 30 years

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(Photo: Xinhua)

SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 28 (Xinhua) -- California prisons recorded this year the highest number of suicides in at least 30 years, well above the national average across the United States, local media reported Saturday.

The state's suicide rate climbed to a record 28.7 per 100,000 prisoners in 2019, up from the rate of 26.3 the year before, and a total of 36 people killed themselves in prisons run by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, San Francisco Chronicle said.

The newspaper said the number of prisoners who committed suicides in cells has risen continuously over the past five years, and the inmate deaths from the self-inflicted killings has exceeded the national average of 20 suicides per 100,000 prisoners this year.

The suicide rate is also more than double the number recorded among the general U.S. population, said the San Francisco-based newspaper, which attributed the mortalities to lack of proper mental health care for the jailed people.

The jail systems in California have failed to offer proper assistance to mentally ill prisoners, said the newspaper, quoting experts who cited a host of problems existing in California prisons, including long wait times for mental health care, insufficient prison psychiatrists, and failures to monitor suicide-prone prisoners.

Although California prisons were more crowded 20 years ago, the suicide rate was only 15.6 per 100,000 people, according to the newspaper.