Three inmates in Israeli jails, affected by what Prisons Service officers called "Holiday Depression," attempted suicide over the Rosh Hashana holiday.
One inmate in the Rimonim Prison in the Sharon region tried to hang himself Monday night from a shower head with a piece of cloth he tore from his bed sheet. A guard, who noticed the prisoner was not in his cell, checked the shower room and found him. The inmate was treated by a medic and was returned safely to his cell.
A second suicide attempt occurred on Tuesday in the Ohalei Keidar Prison near Beersheba when a prisoner began slashing his wrists. Guards caught him in the act and he was immediately transferred to the prison infirmary where his wounds were treated.
The third attempt took place early Thursday morning when a prisoner in the Hadarim Prison in the Sharon tried to hang himself from the window bars in his cell. Guards noticed the inmate dangling from the wall and succeeded in lowering him and saving his life.
"Being locked up in prison over the holiday is one of the most depressing times for convicts," said the head of the Sharon Region Prison Bloc, Lt.-Cmdr. Nazem Sbete. "As a result we keep our eyes on the prisoners and patrol the wards to make sure everyone is safe and sound." Most of the suicide attempts over the holidays, Sbete said, were committed by "depressed prisoners who are frustrated and disappointed" since they were not released on furlough. The suicides, he added, happen mostly at night when loneliness kicks in.
Sbete said that over the holiday, prisoners had the opportunity to enjoy prayer services led by professional cantors and lectures from rabbis hired to create, as he said, the "right holiday spirit."
"People who are stuck in here while their families are outside get depressed," the prison warden said. "This is a sensitive time and we do the best we can to ensure the prisoners' safety."