Hanging

To effect a hanging suicide, the individual must have two things: an object that can be made into a noose and a point on which to tie it. In addition, the individual must be able to place his or her body so that his or her body weight can be used to apply pressure to the neck via the noose.

The materials and objects that can be made into a noose are many and vary from the obvious (ties, belts, shoelaces, etc) to the unusual (underwear, shirts, etc). To attempt to reduce the possibility of hanging suicides many police station cells have been redesigned and attachment points for the noose (pipes, bars, etc) have been removed or covered. However, the lack of these obvious points did not deter some individuals who placed the bed on end and used the upper end as the fixing point. Installation of fixed beds or benching should preclude the use of that method in future. It must be remembered that hanging can still be achieved, although is clearly more difficult, from a low suspension point, and any protrusion from a wall or fitment in a cell can potentially be used as the upper attachment for the noose.

In addition to removing the fixing points, attempts have been made to remove the items that have been used as nooses in the past and belts, shoelaces, etc. are sometimes taken from prisoners. Paper clothing has been used, although this has not been entirely successful because it entails removing all of the individual's clothing, which is clearly impractical in many cases and may raise problems with human rights. If made strong enough to withstand any degree of wear, the paper clothing would also be strong enough to act as a noose.

The key to preventing hanging suicides lies in the careful evaluation of all individuals who are to be detained and in the design of the cells in which they are held to preclude any possible point for the attachment of a noose.

Given the speed with which hanging can be effected, it is most unlikely that anything other than a permanent watch over the suicidal detainee would provide a foolproof method to prevent hanging in a cell. A cycle of 15-min-utes checks will allow more than ample time for an individual to hang himself or herself and cannot be considered to be adequate protection against this type of suicide.

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