The present study aimed to explore the burden of separation from children and its relationship with suicide risk in prisoners with minor children at the moment of admission into the penal justice system. Suicide risk was assessed using the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview in newly admitted female (n = 198) and male (n = 229) prisoners in Santiago de Chile. The burden of separation from minor children was rated on a numeric rating scale. Both genders showed high burden of separation from children at imprisonment. Mothers had significantly lower suicide risk than women without children. The relative risk was 0.31 (95% CI [0.16–0.6], p < 0.001) to show ‘high suicide risk’. There was no difference of suicide risk between imprisoned fathers and male prisoners without children. Within the group of fathers, the suicide risk associated with the burden of separation. Our study indicates that strengthening the parent role and facilitating parent–child contacts during imprisonment could be an important element of suicide prevention interventions.
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