Suicide Among Law Enforcement Officers: An Epidemic to Confront




Talley, Wesley

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Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas (LEMIT)


Research indicates nearly twice as many law enforcement officers die each year from suicide than are killed in vehicle accidents or assaults (O'Hara, 2017). Law enforcement officers are routinely exposed to domestic violence, child abuse, traffic accidents, disturbances, mentally ill persons, robberies, shootings, and people at their worst, which are all considered the norm. Most officers respond to these calls without ever thinking of the toll or psychological impact they have on their mental health. For some officers, repeated exposure to trauma, and failure to resolve traumatic events in a healthy manner will impair their ability to continue to function normally (Thomas, 2017). When an officer’s healthy coping mechanisms fail, the end result is often alcohol and substance abuse, bouts of anxiety, depression, sleeplessness, and, in some cases, suicide. Research estimates indicate between seven and 19 percent of police officers suffer from some form of post-traumatic stress disorder, with symptoms including depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, aggressiveness, and substance abuse as a result of traumatic events they have witnessed (Neusteter & O'Toole, 2018). The prevalence of suicide among police officers in the United States is a call for measures to address and reduce this intolerable epidemic. Law enforcement administrators should strive to eliminate suicide among officers by implementing training to recognize officers suffering from exposure to trauma and practices designed to preserve the physical and mental health of police officers.



Police--Mental Health, Police Psychology, Police Job Stress, Police--Suicidal Behavior