BOSTON – Senator Michael O. Moore (D-Millbury) has been appointed by Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland) to serve on the newly-established Special Commission to Study the Prevention of Suicide Among Correction Officers in Massachusetts Correctional Facilities.

The Special Commission, established under the omnibus criminal justice reform bill signed into law earlier this year, consists of thirteen members who are tasked with reviewing the state of suicide prevention programs in Massachusetts’ correctional facilities.  As part of its review, the Special Commission will develop model plans, recommend program changes, highlight budget priorities and recommend best practices that could be utilized to reduce correction officer suicide and attempted suicide.

“Improving suicide identification and intervention for correctional facility staff is critical to helping create a healthier workplace,” said Senator Moore, who had previously served as Assistant Deputy Superintendent at the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office.  “I look forward to engaging in productive meetings as a member of the Special Commission, and to develop recommendations that will ultimately help save lives.”

“I’m proud that Massachusetts is taking a national lead in studying and addressing suicide prevention among our correctional officers,” said Senate President Spilka.  Too often, we ignore the persistent signs and lasting impacts of mental health in high-stress work environments, such as our correctional facilities.  This is a conversation that is long overdue for those who protect us and struggle with suicidal thoughts, and one that I am proud to see us taking action on.”

The high suicide rate among correction officers – estimated at around six times that of the general population – is not a new issue.  As reported in a 2016 MassLive article, at least twelve officers working for the Massachusetts Department of Correction committed suicide between 2011 and 2015.  The Special Commission is expected to report its findings, as well as any legislative recommendations, by December 31, 2018.