Four months ago we posted a piece prompted by the fact that around 90% of the ‘people’ who commit suicide in prisons are men. I was appalled by a short piece on prison suicide in yesterday’s Times, by Frances Gibb, Legal Editor. An extract:
In 2015, women had a higher suicide rate than men for the first time since 2007, according to Nigel Newcomen, prisons and probations ombudsman.
I would guess most people reading that line would erroneously conclude that more women than men committed suicide in prison in 2015. At best, it’s sloppy journalism. And note the inference that it’s deemed acceptable when men have a higher suicide rate than women for eight years in succession, but it’s a cause for official concern when the position reverses in one year.
The bottom line? To the state – and possibly wider society – the suicide of one woman in prison is more noteworthy than the suicide of nine men. We get a sense of the size of the empathy gender gap right there.
There’s a fleeting reference to the infamous (Baroness) Corston Report. I recommend William Collins’s article on the report, The Cortson Report – A Case Study in Gynocentrism.
Men who commit suicide in prison are evidently invisible to Ms Gibb as well as the (male) prisons and probations ombudsman and the Howard League for Penal Reform.
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