LifeLine Prison Program

The Problem of Suicide in Jails and Prisons

“Suicide continues to be a leading cause of death in jails across the country; the rate of suicide in county jails is estimated to be several times greater than that in the general population.”

“The data indicate that inmate suicide is no longer centralized to the first 24 hours of confinement and can occur at any time during an inmate’s confinement… Because inmates can be at risk for suicide at any point during confinement, the biggest challenge for those who work in the corrections system is to view the issue as requiring a continuum of comprehensive suicide prevention services aimed at the collaborative identification, continued assessment, and safe management of inmates at risk for self-harm.”

Excerpts from the U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Corrections National Study of Jail Suicide 20 Years Later (2010)

Suicide Prevention and the RI Department of Corrections


Suicide is considered to be a “missed opportunity” in preventing it. Someone knew something about someone and did not say anything. Completed suicides and suicide attempts not only affect the victim but fellow inmates, family, especially inmates’ children, friends and the prison community for a lifetime. At the RI Department of Corrections  suicide prevention is everyone’s business and works best when everyone – administration, correctional officers, staff and inmates work together.


If you have knowledge of an inmate  who is suicidal, contact The RI Department of Corrections.  Look under Additional Frequently Asked Questions: Concern for Inmates After Hours: click here.

What is LifeLine?

Originally started in 1989, Lifeline is a partnership of the RI Department of Corrections and The Samaritans of RI, the state’s most trusted name in suicide prevention.

LifeLine is a peer to peer befriending program designed to provide new inmates with information which will help to lessen their anxiety, which is a result of incarceration and to serve as a peer outreach, awareness and referral for treatment effort before inmates become suicidal.

LIfeLine is an in-jail, nonreligious fellowship of volunteers including inmates and The Samaritans.  LifeLine is dedicated to the alleviation of hopelessness, loneliness and depression that can lead to suicide by making befriending available to those who believe they have no other person to turn to in their distress.

Inmates of all ages also talk to LifeLiners when they just need someone to listen.

Trained in nonjudgmental listening by The Samaritans of RI, LifeLiner inmate volunteers provide nonjudgmental befriending to the hopeless, alone, suicidal, grieving, infirmed, stressed by worry.

LifeLine does not replace professional medical, mental health, social service or pastoral care. However, a LifeLiner can provide supportive services between appointments or when family and friends are not available.

LifeLine is volunteer based and is not a medical or social service program. Inmates in need of medical attention, whether physical or psycho/social will be referred to the medical department for care.

Download a copy of our LifeLine program brochure.