A Study of Police Suicide Statistics

A study of Police Suicide Statistics

By Ron Clark, RN, MS, Connecticut State Police (ret.)

Andy O’Hara, California Highway Patrol (ret.)

January 4, 2017

Badge of Life completed its most recent annual survey of police suicides for 2016.  Known as NSOPS (National Study of Police Suicides), this was our fourth in a series of studies that began in 2008. 

One thing was clear in 2016: police suicides took another noticeable drop.This is the second reduction we have seen since we began monitoring them in 2008. This is encouraging news that we tentatively attribute to the increased number of departments adopting peer support programs and the increased willingness of officers, many of them younger, to seek professional assistance—not only when they have a problem, but before problems develop (through things like annual “mental health checks”).  

2008 police suicides: 141

2009 police suicides: 143

2012 police suicides: 126

2016 police suicides: 108

Profile of suicide cases: Average age, 2016: 42; Average years on job: 17

91 percent of suicides were by males.

Ages 40 – 44 were most at risk.

Time on the job:  15 – 19 years were most at risk.

 

In spite of this encouraging news, the fact is that police suicides continue at a rate much higher than the number of police officers killed by felons.This alone reminds us of the need to redouble our efforts, not only at suicide intervention, but on the maintenance of mental health in law enforcement. We cannot lose sight of the fact that the officer whose mind is on other problems, be they at home or at work, is a danger to himself and other officers who are relying on him. 

 

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