Massachusetts correction officers die by suicide at a alarmingly high rate, and the state Department of Correction is concerned. It’s gotten to be such a big problem, it has drawn the attention of lawmakers, compelling the state legislature to form a commission to study the phenomenon.
It also has captured the attention of Natasha Frost, a criminology and criminal justice professor in Northeastern’s College of Social Sciences and Humanities, and her research partner, Carlos Monteiro, a Northeastern alumnus who studied criminology and criminal justice policy and now works as an assistant professor at Suffolk University. They are in the midst of a four-year probe into the well-being of officers at the Massachusetts Department of Correction. Frost said it is one of the first-ever studies on suicide among correctional officers.
“There’s clearly growing evidence that people that work in prisons do suffer the effects from working in those environments,” said Frost.
The issue gained national attention in 2015, when Fox News broke several stories about the disproportionately high suicide rate among Massachusetts’ correctional officers. The subject returned to the fore in 2017 with the high profile suicide of professional football player Aaron Hernandez, though he was an inmate and not a correctional officer.