The elevated risk of suicide in prison and after release is a well-recognised and serious problem. Despite this, evidence concerning community-based offenders' suicide risk is sparse. We conducted a population-based nested case–control study of all people in a community justice pathway in England and Wales. Our data show 13% of general population suicides were in community justice pathways before death. Suicide risks were highest among individuals receiving police cautions, and those having recent, or impending prosecution for sexual offences. Findings have implications for the training and practice of clinicians identifying and assessing suicidality, and offering support to those at elevated risk.