A prison film, based on Stephen King novel, The Shawshank Redemption (Mavin & Darabont, 1994) paints a portrait of post-institutional suicide.Brooks is an elderly man who served 50 years in prison, much of them served as prison librarian. He had a position of authority, and a purpose that kept him going from day to day. Brooks was well liked and well respected. When he receives parole, Brooks finds that nothing is the same on the outside. He is given a room in a halfway house and a job as a bag boy at a grocery store. Brooks is lonely, disliked by his store manager, and faces difficulties doing work because of age and health problems. Brooks decides that he cannot make it on the outside. After writing a letter to his previous fellow inmates expressing that he does not think anybody will miss him when he is gone, dressing himself neatly in a suit, and carving “Brooks was here” into the top his wall, he hangs himself from his ceiling beam. Red, another prison and the narrator of the film, later says that he does not think he could make it on the outside: “I’m an institutional man, just like Brooks was” (Marvin & Darabont, 1994).
Prisoners face a variety of obstacles upon release, among them mental illness, discrimination, financial disadvantage, homelessness, unemployment, lack of education, and lack of social support. Mortality rates for the first year after release from prison are 156 per 100,000 people. Excluding deaths on the day of release, the suicide risk of released prisoners relative to that of the general population was eight times greater for men and 36 times greater for women (“Suicide in recently released prisoners,” 2006; Pratt, Piper, Appleby, Webb, & Shaw, 2006). Pratt, et al. (2006) found that older men were particularly susceptible to problems with social reintegration after release from prison.