European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

, Volume 24, Issue 2, pp 219–225

National total Survey of German adolescent Suicide in Prison

  • D. Radeloff
  • T. Lempp
  • E. Herrmann
  • M. Kettner
  • K. Bennefeld-Kersten
  • C. M. Freitag
Original Contribution

DOI: 10.1007/s00787-014-0568-1

Cite this article as:
Radeloff, D., Lempp, T., Herrmann, E. et al. Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry (2015) 24: 219. doi:10.1007/s00787-014-0568-1


Incarcerated adolescents are a high-risk group for suicidal behaviour, but data on completed suicide are scarce in this population. The present study aimed at calculating relative risks (RR) of suicide in detention and identifying age-related risk factors. We compared data of a German national total survey of completed suicide of young detainees (14 to <21 years, N = 79) during the years 2000–2010 with age- and gender-adjusted suicide deaths in non-incarcerated adolescents (N = 3,484) and incarcerated adults (N = 781). Prison suicide accounted for 2.3 % of all suicide deaths in adolescents, but only 0.1 % of this age group was detained. The RR = 23.0 for adolescent suicide in detention exceeded the RR = 7.7 of adults by far. In adults, suicide rates in pre-trial detention was fivefold higher than in criminal detention; suicide rates were more balanced in adolescent detainees. Our results underline the need for age-specific suicide prevention strategies in detention.


SuicideDetentionRisk assessmentMortalityConduct disordersCommunity mental health



Suicide rate = suicide deaths per 100,000 person years


Relative risk = ratio of the probability of an event occurring in an exposed group to the probability of the event occurring in a comparison group

Group YP

Adolescents (14 to <21 years of age) in criminal detention or pre-trial detention (p = prison)

Group Ygp

Adolescents (14 to <21 years of age) in the general population (GP) outside correctional facilities

Population Y

Group YP + Group YGP = adolescents (14 to <21 years of age)

Group AP

Adults (≥21 years of age) in criminal detention or pre-trial detention (p = prison)

Group AGP

Adults (≥21 years of age) in the general population (GP) outside correctional facilities

Population A

Group AP + Group AGP = adults (≥21 years of age)

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. Radeloff
    • 1
  • T. Lempp
    • 1
  • E. Herrmann
    • 2
  • M. Kettner
    • 3
  • K. Bennefeld-Kersten
    • 4
  • C. M. Freitag
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Psychosomatics and PsychotherapyGoethe University of FrankfurtFrankfurtGermany
  2. 2.Department of Medicine, Institute of Biostatistics and Mathematical ModelingGoethe University FrankfurtFrankfurtGermany
  3. 3.Institute of Forensic MedicineUniversity of Saarland Medical SchoolHomburg/SaarGermany
  4. 4.Criminological ServicesInstitute of Justice in Lower SaxonyCelleGermany