Today’s police officers not only have a tough job to do but are expected to enforce laws that needlessly destroy families and lives. This takes a mental toll and with public opinion at a all time low towards law enforcement this can wear down even the toughest police officers. Suicide stats are alarmingly high in law enforcement. Here are some facts.
- There is a high risk for suicide within the law enforcement profession.
- Alcohol plays a significant role. (while arresting and ruining lives for marijuana use)
- “Police work gets in your blood.”
- Silence about feelings happens on the job.
- There usually are warning signs.
National rate of suicide for law enforcement officers:
2015 Fraternal Order of Police suicide study found a suicide rate of 26 deaths per 100,000 officers
2015 USA Today study surveyed the nation’s largest law enforcement agencies.
Chicago PD 18.1,
San Diego PD 35.7,
US Customs 45.6
As police militarization has increased so has the suicide rate.
1934-1960: police suicide rates were half that of the general population (Goldfarb, 1998)
1980-present: police suicide rates are 2-3 times higher than the general population (Mohandie & Hatcher, 1999; Slovenko, 1999
Demographic suicide stats
Sex: 76% male, 24% female
Ethnicity: 61% Caucasian, 33% Hispanic, 3% African-American, 3% Asian
Age: range = 26-57, mean = 38
Rank: 70% police officers, 12% Sgts., 12% detectives, 6% other
Years of Service: range = 1-29, mean = 13
Mode of Death: 91% gunshot, 3% hanging, 3% carbon monoxide, 3% car collision
Why officers kill themselves:
- Drugs (Steroid Use) & Alcohol abuse
- Administrative/ Legal Problems
- Financial Problems
- Exposure to Trauma/ Adverse Life Events
- Negative Self-Image
- Physical Illness/ Retirement/ Chronic Pain
- Family History of Suicide/Violence/ Abuse
- Carrying out unjust laws that ruin families and destroys the fabric of our society.
What about the job contributes to suicide?
- Sense of Morality – Justice – Fair
- Justifiable OR Unjustifiable Force to Solve a Problem
- Suspicious of Others
- Lack of control over your life
Strategic Areas to Intervene
- 1 Relationships
- 2 Alcohol
- 3 Support System
- 4 Stress Management
- 5 Identification of at-risk officers
- 6 Education
Silence can be deadly’: 46 officers were fatally shot last year. More than triple that — 140 — committed suicide.
Why have police suicide rate gone up? The militarization of our police force has created a them versus us scenario, community policing have largely been replaced with arrest at all cost even for a minor offence, video cameras has brought on even more resentment towards law enforcement officers as we continually see bad cops beating, killing, raping, and in many instances with no loss of job and the tax payer flipping the bill for the lawsuits making the officers a target for ridicule and many times a isolated life.
Stats are not high enough.