Self-injury and Its Criminal Correlates among Hungarian Juvenile Offenders

doi: 10.32577/mr.2023.1.6


Self-injury is an important problem in incarcerated populations worldwide. This behaviour may be explained by circumstantial factors as incarceration per se may trigger stress responses that result in suicide and other forms of self-harming. On the other hand, certain psychiatric disorders are associated with an increased risk of self-injury and recent findings suggest that psychiatric disorders are highly prevalent in prison and reformatory populations. As a first attempt to study this issue in Hungarian underage criminals, we investigated the prevalence of self-injury and suicidal ideation in reformatory institutions. These were established in 84 incarcerated male juvenile offenders by the MINI KID structured psychiatric inventory. The study lasted 2 years. About one sixth (16.66%) of offenders had a suicidal history. More than half showed self-harming behaviour (N = 47, 55.95%) and 5 subjects reported suicidal ideation at the time of the assessment (5.95%). The suicidal tendency did not reach the level of actual life-threatening condition in any participant. These findings show that self-harming behaviour is rather frequent in the correctional system and requires further research, e.g. studies on the psychiatric antecedents of this behaviour. The findings of such studies may be applicable both in practice and in the education of law enforcement professionals.


juvenile offender suicidal behaviour self-injury criminal psychiatry criminal psychology


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