Prison campaigners yesterday warned that a record number of female inmates are likely to kill themselves this year, after a woman serving a five-month sentence became the 12th to die at her own hands this year.

Staff at New Hall prison in West Yorkshire found Mandy Pearson, 37, hanging on Monday. The number of female prison suicides has soared over the last decade, from one in 1994 to a record 14 last year. A 13th woman is still in a coma after being cut down from a noose in Holloway this summer, and activists fear that last year's toll will be exceeded.

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