A cross-sectional study of depression among death row convicts from a south Indian state
Keywords:convicts, depression, death row syndrome, prisons, community psychiatry
Background: Convicts punished with death sentences are reported to show a higher vulnerability for depression than the general population and other convicts. Previous studies have looked at the prevalence of depression in convicts; however, no studies from India have examined depression specifically among death row convicts. The present study aims to assess the prevalence of depression among death row convicts. Methods: This is a cross-sectional study conducted among 28 death row convicts from a South Indian State, using a semi-structured questionnaire and Beck's Depression Inventory-II. After obtaining necessary permission from the government and prison authorities to interview the convicts, two visits were made to Central Prison, Belgaum. Descriptive statistics were used to measure the frequencies and percentage. Results: Most convicts in this study were aged between 30 and 60 years (68.96%) and predominantly male (93.10%). The majority of the convicts had either mild or no depression, while the rest had moderate to severe depression (57.15% vs 42.85%). Depression was significantly higher during the initial phase of the conviction (57.13%). There was an inverse trend of depression (57.13%, ? 6 years vs 42.85%, > 6 years) with the duration of stay in prison. Conclusions: Depression is prevalent among death row convicts. More systematic observation and analyses are needed from both the legal and medical fraternity to look at the death sentence and its impact on mental health.
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