The number of inmates who killed themselves in prisons in England and Wales increased dramatically in 2007, figures released by the Ministry of Justice show today.
There were a total of 92 "self-inflicted deaths" in 2007, including 84 males, eight females, seven male young offenders (under 21) and one juvenile.
The total also included 23 foreign nationals, 18 prisoners sentenced to life, and 41 prisoners on remand. The number of prisoners taking their own lives had previously appeared to be falling, with 67 in 2006, down from 78 in 2005 and 95 in 2004. There were 94 in 2003 and 95 in 2002.
Self-inflicted deaths include all those where a prisoner appears to have acted specifically to take his or her own life.
The MoJ said more than 100 prisoners were resuscitated after "serious self-harm incidents" and "many hundreds more have been helped by the care and timely interventions of staff".
The prison population reached record numbers last year with more than 80,000 inmates at any one time. About 130,000 prisoners pass through the system every year, and on any one day 1,500 inmates assessed to be "at particular risk" are cared for, the MoJ said.
Prisons Minister Maria Eagle said: "The Government remains determined to prevent deaths in custody. I regret this year's increase in self-inflicted deaths after the significant decreases of recent years.
"Our prisons contain large numbers of very vulnerable people, and caring for them is challenging and vital work. I know that all those involved remain totally committed, and I commend them for that."
Prison Service director general Phil Wheatley added: "Staff have continued to make strenuous efforts in this vital area of work in dealing with a challenging and vulnerable prison population.
The provisional rate for suicide in 2007 is 114 per 100,000 prisoners, compared to 86.5 in 2006, 102.6 in 2005 and 127.2 in 2004.
The implementation of Suicide Prevention and Self-Harm Management, which was published in October 2007, is due to be completed in every prison by the end of April 2008. It incorporates assessment, care in custody and teamwork - a care-planning system for prisoners at-risk of suicide or self-harm.