Document Type

Journal Article


Treatment avoidance or help-negation has been described in clinical and non-clinical samples, in response to real or imagined suicidal scenarios (Carlton & Deane, 2000; Rudd, Joiner & Rajab, 1995). The aims of the present study were to describe the process of seeking psychological help in prison based on inmate interviews and to assess the impact of several psychological and systemic factors on the intention to seek help in prison. Male prison inmates (N = 52) were less likely to seek help for suicidal feelings than for a general personal-emotional problem. Thoughts about death and suicide were associated with help-negation for prison inmates. Additionally, participants identified negative reactions from staff and other inmates, lack of trust in prison psychologists, and aversive prison procedures for managing suicidal inmates as barriers to the expression of suicidal concerns. Suggestions are made to improve appropriate professional psychological helpseeking by prison inmates. Future helpseeking research in prison populations should incorporate longitudinal designs (e.g., the Theory of Planned Behavior, Ajzen, 1991) to clarify the attitude-behavior relationship.