There’s mystery surrounding the recent death of one former New England Patriot. Aaron Hernandez’s suicide has cast an entirely new light on the prison suicide epidemic that is overtaking institutions all over America and the world.
Aaron Jose’ Hernandez seemingly had it all!
He was a rising Football star that had been a tight-end for the New England Patriots for three years when his world came crashing down in an instant.
The 2013 Arrest of Aaron Hernandez
In 2013 , Hernandez was arrested and convicted for the murder of Odin Lloyd, the boyfriend of his fiance’s sister. Sentenced to a life in prison, Aaron never really adapted behind bars, but then matters got worse.
Aaron was then indicted for the murders of Safiro Furtado and Daniel de Abreu. In 2017, he was acquitted for the double murders. But, only 5 days later he would be found hanging from a bed sheet in his prison cell.
Aaron Hernandez’s suicide came as quite a shock to all – especially considering he had just been acquitted for the Safiro Furtado and Daniel de Abreu homicides.
Friends and family say that he had been in great spirits since his acquittal. So what happened? Why did he take his life when things were taking a new turn in his life?
Well… although Aaron Hernandez’s suicide stunned the world, its not uncommon for a prison inmate to commit suicide. Not uncommon at all! In fact – suicide is the #1 cause of death of inmates incarcerated in prisons & jails across America.
The Shocking Statistics of Prison Suicide
The number of inmate suicides in state prisons climbed by more than 30 percent during 2016-2017 period, according to a recent report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) in the Department of Justice.
- More than one out of five jail suicides were by inmates being held in solitary confinement or special housing units (Aaron asked to be moved to another cell prior to his suicide), while almost half of jail suicides involved inmates in the jail’s general population.
- The mortality reports observed some racial and ethnic disparities for deaths from illness, and the same was true for suicides.
- For federal and state prisons combined, suicide accounted for the deaths of about 7 percent of white inmates, compared with about 3.5 percent of black inmates.
- The disparity was even sharper for jail inmate suicides: white inmates there were more than five times more likely to kill themselves than were black inmates.
- Hispanic inmates in jails had a suicide rate about 23 percent higher than black jail inmates. (Aaron Hernandez was Hispanic)
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says a racial disparity in suicides similar to that for prison inmates holds true for males in the general population between the ages of 45 and 64.
The Prison Suicide Epidemic: Why are Suicide Rates Climbing?
Scholars explain the higher-than-expected suicide rates at local jails in various ways. Aaron Hernandez’s suicide has made many stand up and take notice.
Some point to the “shock of confinement,” the disruption from regular life and the added stresses and special challenges for an inexperienced inmate, noting suicides are more likely to occur among inmates being held for trial than among those serving time after a conviction.
Others note jails are less likely to have intake methods and staff trained to identify mental health issues, while prisons are more likely to have better information on their inmates and greater resources and experience dealing with those issues.
Aaron Hernandez’s Suicide and the Prison Suicide Epidemic
We will likely never know the real reason that Aaron Hernandez committed suicide in his jail ceil, and there is still an investigation going on to get to the heart of the tragedy.Perhaps being acquitted for the double murders helped him, but his other conviction could never be appealed.
There is rumor that it was financial related and he thought his family would be better off financially if he went out that way.
Other reports state that Hernandez was dealing with a number of demons such as his sexuality, bullying in prison, and other factors.
But one thing is for certain, whether you are a civilian or a celebrity prisoner – suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
America needs to get our act together to change the stakes and help prisoners and inmates deal with their mental, emotional, and physical health. Then, we can decrease the statistics and finally stop the prison suicide epidemic.
Hopefully, Aaron Hernandez’s suicide has been the wake up call we need to insist on changes within the U.S. prison system.
If you or someone you know needs help, call 1-800-273-8255 for the National
Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also text HELLO to 741-741 for free,
24-hour support from the Crisis Text Line. Outside of the U.S., please
visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database