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Why Are Police Officers Dying by Suicide?

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Why Are Police Officers Dying by Suicide?

Why four New York police officers died by suicide in just one month this year (June 2019)1 is a bit of a mystery. So is the fact that the city of Chicago has seen seven of its police officers die by suicide between 2018 and 20191. Nationwide, 167 officers and 169 officers died by suicide in 2018 and 2017, respectively2.

While suicide lacks definitive answers, some clues provide insight into police officer suicides.

  • Law enforcement involves constant, high-intensity stress.
  • Police officers are frequently exposed to trauma and are at greater risk than the general population of developing PTSD3.
  • Stigma prevents these officers from seeking help.

Stigma—negative, judgmental attitudes and behaviors—can cause shame, humiliation and anxiety over the loss of active duty status. Accordingly, many police officers suffer in silence.

What Can Be Done?

NYPD commissioner James O’Neill1 considers these suicides a mental health crisis. To that end, he, along with the Police Organization Providing Peer Assistance (POPPA), is seeking to

  • Destigmatize depression and PTSD
  • Encourage officers to reach out and to check in with each other
  • Promote the use of peer-to-peer counseling programs

That more police officers die by suicide each year than are killed in the line of duty2 is tragic. That the NYPD and departments across the country are working toward a solution is an important step in reducing suicide rates among police officers.

Note: Safe, stigma-free access to help is important for everyone. If you feel hopeless and are considering harming yourself, contact the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or suicidepreventionlifeline. org.

Sources

  1. Ortiz, E. (2019). Fourth NYPD Officer Suicide in 3 Weeks a Reminder of ‘Combustible’ Situation. NBC News. Retrieved July 2019 from https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/fourth-nypd-officer-suicide-3-weeks-reminder-combustible-situation-n1024686
  2. 167 American Police Officers Died by Suicide in 2018. (2018). Blue H.E.L.P. Retrieved July7 2019 from https://bluehelp.org/158-american-police-officers-died-by-suicide-in-2018/
  3. What is posttraumatic stress disorder? (2008). officer.com. Retrieved July 2019 from https://www.officer.com/tactical/article/10248615/what-is-posttraumatic-stress-disorder

Related Articles Dealing with Stigma, Suicide

Your Thoughts

Today's Question: What role has stigma played in your ability to seek mental health help? We invite you to participate by sharing your thoughts, experiences, and knowledge on the HealthyPlace Facebook page.

From the HealthyPlace Mental Health Blogs

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Read more anxiety quotes.

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APA Reference
Peterson, T. (2019, July 23). Why Are Police Officers Dying by Suicide?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, September 20 from https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/mental-health-newsletter/why-are-police-officers-dying-by-suicide

Last Updated: July 25, 2019
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Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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