What does hope mean when working with suicidal prisoners?

Max Read, Ian Noonan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Instances of fatal suicide in prison continue to rise. A loss of hope has been linked to suicide risk, yet the concept of hope in prison is not well understood. The aim of this study was to gain an insight into a multidisciplinary health care team's understanding of the concept of hope when working with suicidal prisoners. Semi-structured interviews were carried out with 13 members of a multidisciplinary health care team at a category B male prison, and 7 participants additionally attended a focus group. The data was then thematically analysed. Three themes emerged from the analysis: a diverse understanding of the concept of hope, hope as a protective factor from suicide, and prison is a unique environment. These insights acknowledge hope as a key factor in prisoners' recovery and the reduction of suicide risk; however, the multidisciplinary team did not share an understanding of the concept of hope. Theoretical development in this area, for example through concept analysis, will bring consistency to future research and enable the development of evidence-based interventions which may reduce the high rate of prison suicide and subsequently have a positive effect on staff stress and burnout.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-31
Number of pages8
JournalBritish Journal of Mental Health Nursing
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2018
Externally publishedYes


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