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Article

Abstract

To date, little research has systematically investigated perceptions of mental health professionals regarding perceived motivations for self-injury among prison inmates. To help fill this gap, descriptive techniques were used to examine self-injurious behavior among inmates from the perspective of correctional mental health professionals. A quantitative survey was used to assess perceptions of mental health staff regarding etiology, motivations, and manifestations of self-injury. A qualitative interview component was used to explicate responses from the survey. Findings indicate that inmate cutting, scratching, opening old wounds, and inserting objects were the most commonly witnessed behaviors. There were indications that self-injury occurred regularly and that a subset of inmates are responsible for recurrent events. Mental health professionals perceived the motivation for inmate self-injury to be both manipulative and a coping mechanism. Professionals described current management strategies and corresponding needs for training and resources.

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