In 2012, thirty-two inmates in California’s thirty-four state prison facilities committed suicide, and many of these deaths were likely preventable with proper psychiatric care. California’s state prisons have one of the highest suicide rates of prisons in the United States. One inmate commits suicide approximately every eleven days, nearly 1.5 times the national average, and that rate has increased steadily since the early 2000s.

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In this brief selection, James Baldwin (1924–1987) reads from two sections of his novel, Another Country. Published in 1962, and set in Greenwich Village, Another Country traces the complex interracial relationships of a group of artists, writers, and musicians, clustered around Rufus, a jazz musician whose suicide affects them profoundly.