A suicidal inmate was described as "180 degrees" in prison notes - a reference to how his mood could change.
The reference was used by a prison governor who gave evidence at the inquest into the death of Shane Stroughton, aged 29, of Sutton.
Two months before he was found hanged, Mr Stroughton was under "constant supervision" in Nottingham Prison.
He had harmed himself in a police station, started a fire in his prison cell, seemed withdrawn and was not eating properly.
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Assistant Nottinghamshire Coroner Ivan Cartwright said: "It sounds like absolute crisis."
This was accepted by Deborah Searson-Smith, who spent two hours 30 minutes over two days talking to him. She later noted that he was in a "better frame of mind" but that this could change quickly.
Later he climbed onto netting strung over landings to prevent prisoners falling and getting hurt.
She was called to the incident and told the 10-member jury: "He mouthed the word 'sorry,' showing he was engaging.
"There were a lot of positives for Shane. He spoke very passionately about his mum. He had so much to work to."
Mr Stroughton was found hanged in his cell on September 13, 2017.
Nick Armstrong, who represents the bereaved family, told the hearing: "The tragedy is that he was due to be released on September 15, two days later."
He referred to the note saying Mr Stroughton was "180 degrees," a reference to the risk of him changing suddenly.
The governor replied: "I think he responded to practical help, by giving him some help and a little bit of control."
The hearing was told that was given 30 months jail at the age of 19, under the terms of Imprisonment for Public Protection, known as IPP. This can lead to open-ended sentences and is now abolished.
Mr Armstrong said: "There are a lot of issues in the prison system with people on IPP not getting access to offending behaviour courses."
The hearing was told that Mr Stroughton might have thought he would have to live in a hostel in Hucknall. He feared meeting former friends who might get him back into trouble.
Probation officer Peter Marshall agreed that this attitude was "a positive." But there were few places which would house him because he was classed as "an arson risk."
Senior prison officer Jason Pound said the inmate had been subject to an ACCT, Assessment Care in Custody and Teamwork. This is intended to protect inmates but was withdrawn.
He was asked if he came under pressure to drop ACCTs because many inmates were on them and they added to the work of staff.
"There is no pressure to close one if there is a reason to keep it open," he said.
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The inquest continues at Nottingham Council House.