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Background: Justice-involved populations report a higher than average number of pre-incarceration stressful life events. However, few studies have described stressful life events which occur during incarceration, explored gender differences in these events, or evaluated the effect of these events on well-being. Method: This study draws from a sample of male and female adults incarcerated in 6 prison facilities across two states (n = 160) to identify the number and type of stressful life events they experienced during incarceration, gender differences in stressful events, and the relationship between stressful life events and markers of well-being (i.e., depression, hopelessness, loneliness, suicidality). We also examined whether perceived social support would buffer the relationship between stressful events and well-being outcomes. Results: Participants on average reported experiencing 4 stressful life events during their current incarceration, the most common being relocation to another cell and being made fun of/insulted by someone in the prison. There were few gender differences in types of events experienced. Regression analyses showed that stressful life events were associated with more loneliness, as well as suicidality, but only when participants had low perceived social support. Conclusions: Stressful life events, and drawing on social support networks to cope with stress, should be addressed in the context of correctional treatments to reduce suicide risk during incarceration.

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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.