Howard N. Snyders Is Suicide More Common Inside or Outside Juvenile Facilities An Article Critique

Howard N. Snyders article on criminal justice which specifically goes by the title Is Suicide More Common Inside or Outside Juvenile Facilities is a quantitative and comparative inquiry that seeks to shed light into the likelihood of youth offenders committing suicide under two distinct circumstances i.e., (a) while they are in the custody of juvenile detention facilities or (b) when they are left to be on their own, outside  as it were  of such detention facilities. Snyders inquiry, which straightforwardly asks Are suicides more common in juvenile facilities takes cue from a study generated a couple of decades back, claiming that youths in juvenile detention facilities were four to five times more likely to be the victim of suicide than were similarly aged youths in the general U.S. population (2005, p. 84). Upon presentation of the problem, it would be apparent, if not all together obvious, that the author takes the above-cited position in a critical fashion.

The study design is both discursive and survey-based interpretation. It is discursive for the reason that the chief thrust of the study is argumentative in nature. The manner by which the article has been done relies heavily on the articulation of the statistical data and the corollary qualification of the same. There is therefore a lot of discursive method employed in the research. On the other hand, the research is survey-based interpretation. This is for the obvious reason that the foundational discourse of the study takes cue from a survey, both previously done and just-recently conducted. In fact, there are reasons to think that Snyders inquiry is a critical assessment of an extant or previous study using recent surveys, in order to lend support to his own sets of arguments and conclusions.

Furthermore, the research study is quantitative in that it is comparable to construing general interpretation from available statistical data. Put in simpler terms, the study, since it takes cue from statistical data, aims at making conclusive qualifications without judging the motives, concerns or value and belief-systems of the sample. It would be apparent that Snyders concern is to reveal the why of his claims i.e., why juvenile suicide incidences do not occur more often within the jurisdictions of juvenile facilities, when compared to, say the general trend of suicide incidences happening in the entire country. No further conclusions can be made apart from the trend which the research wishes to zero in on.

The data, if only to mention, was obtained by the National Center for Health Statistics, under the umbrella authority of the U.S. Department of Justice. Therein, one can take close heed of the fact that the operational definitions of suicide, or the willful cessation of ones life (Barry, 1997, p. 9) and the circumstantial occurrence defining such suicide, i.e., the actual place where the suicide has been carried out, were assumed, and not anymore defined. By assumed, one takes the terms of suicide and circumstantial occurrence as semantically understood in plain and common terms. No other meanings of suicide can be deduced, inasmuch as no other meaning must be connoted of place where suicide has been committed (i.e., it is either inside or outside the four walls of juvenile facilities). Snyders research, one can readily say, does not require extensive definition of conventions, since most nomenclatures are understandable in laymans terms.

Inductive reasoning is, for most part, the general and recurring logic used in the study. The author used induction, or the process of gathering collective and particular information to create general assumptions or subsequent conclusions, as the main thrust of the logic of his study. One example of inductive reasoning used in the study lies in Snyders proposition that, during 2001, when there were approximately 104, 413 youth offenders who were placed under juvenile facilities, the number of those who committed suicide would not be greater than the number of those who did the same from the general demographic of the country (2005, p. 85). By using particular data to base conclusions, the author therefore engaged in inductive reasoning.

This inductive approach to the research material is even more highlighted by the fact that it used at least three (3) particular surveys, and the pertinent data found therein, to lend support to the authors conclusion. This is very classic of inductive methodology.  First, the author cited NCHS data for 1990 through 2001 as revelatory of the counts of suicides for each age, sex and raceethnicity group in the United States (Synder, 2005, p. 84). Second, the author quoted the findings of the survey sanctioned by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJD) in 2000, 2001 and 2004. Last but not least, Snyders research likewise used OJJDs Census of Juvenile Residential Placement to gather data in support of his main thesis.

Deductive reasoning was also used in the beginning of the study, when Snyder, after considering the conclusion developed in 1975, claiming that juvenile facilities have greater incidences of suicide, propounded that such findings may not sit well in contemporary research (Snyder, 2005, p. 84). By stating that the original report (in referring to the previous study) indicated that the available data were less than ideal and the research was forced to incorporate assumptions that are open to criticism, it can be argued that Snyder engaged in deductive reasoning to propose his educated hypothesis or to submit his already obvious conclusion, which is quite critical of above-mentioned study with which his own research begins.

The research methodology which the author used is more analogous to correlation analysis than observational or statistical work. While statistical data is of substantial importance to the study, the fact that Snyders concern is primarily to draw conclusions from the said data, it warranted the study use correlation or comparative analysis instead of observational or statistical method. The use of correlation and comparative analysis is, in many respects, viable ways by which the author can fully support his thesis, especially since he is motivated by the need to argue against the results of an old survey using the data from newer surveys.

By way of conclusion, the author asserts that the number of suicides of youth in juvenile custody is no greater than for a group of demographically similar youths in general U.S. population (2005, p. 86). It would be plain to see that the author has concluded in favor of his hypothesis which, as hinted hereinabove this paper, claims that it would be inconclusive for one to say that the suicide rate of those in custody of detention facilities is higher than those coming from the general demographic make-up of the United States.

The authors conclusion presents a rather critical view of the long-standing notion that youth offenders who were taken in the custody of juvenile facilities are more likely to commit suicide than their counterparts. Other than that, the study does not provide or add anything further. The fact that the study is highly quantitative and not qualitative renders it limited in many respects. For one, I am of the opinion that the study is just another form of information which can hardly be used to address problems sufficiently, or be quoted by legislators or researchers in drafting of appropriate approaches or policies. I believe that the study could have explored not only on the occurrence of suicides but also on the Psychological or Sociological underpinnings contributing to the commission of suicide. The study could have looked into the motivations in order to draw conclusions which would be relevant for policy making and further studies. This could have allowed end-users to utilize the study as data for preferential action. Of this much I can therefore say that any relevant study must contribute not only to the advance of knowledge but also to the general wellbeing and quality of human life. Thus, Snyders research, while highly informative, lacks the material capacity to inspire collective effort to reduce, if not prevent, suicides from all facets of societal life.


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