There are 18 times more suicides in Italian prisons than in the rest of the country, with one Italian prisoner committing suicide every 5 days. Most suicides are among newly imprisoned men between the age of 25 and 34 who have been arrested for petty crimes and who would normally only be expecting to serve a short sentence. In many cases the prisoner committing suicide has not come to trial, with 20 per cent of suicides taking place within 7 days of the prisoner being admitted to prison and 50 per cent within the first 6 months.

The prison regime is tough, in many cases six people share a cell designed for two, and as many as 50 per cent of inmates are suffering from serious health conditions. The suicides end their lives either by hanging themselves, suffocating themselves with a plastic bag or by gassing themselves with the fuel from the small stoves they are allowed in their cells.