TDOC Expands Comprehensive Suicide Prevention Program

Friday, October 08, 2021 | 12:46pm

NASHVILLE–The Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC) has added a Suicide Prevention Hotline, allowing family
members of inmates to notify TDOC if they suspect their incarcerated loved one is experiencing suicidal thoughts or behaviors. This reporting tool, which was brought online last week, expands the department’s comprehensive suicide prevention program to ensure the safety of offenders in custody.

“Family members are oftentimes the ones who receive the initial notification and indication of self-harm from an offender,” said Lee Dotson, Assistant Commissioner of Prisons. “Therefore, we felt it necessary to provide them adirect point of contact to report these concerns.”

The Suicide Prevention Hotline will be routed to TDOCs Central Communication Center (CCC), which is staffed 24-hours a day, 7-days a week. Analysts at the CCC will then make notifications to the facility where the offender is housed so intervention can take place immediately.

Dr. Jim Casey, Director of Behavioral Health Services at TDOC, says people in prison are among the highest risk for suicide. “Because of our vulnerable population, TDOC begins suicide prevention the day someone enters our facility, starting with an initial assessment.  However, despite the continuum of care that is offered, staff are not always alerted when a person is having thoughts of self-harm; this hotline will help bridge that gap. ”

Currently, inmates who are experiencing thoughts of suicide can speak with any staff member on duty for immediate assistance.