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NCJ Number: 193552 Find in a Library
Title: Relationship Between Police Officer Suicide and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (From Suicide and Law Enforcement, P 257-265, 2001, Donald C. Sheehan and Janet I. Warren, eds. -- See NCJ-193528)
Author(s): Wayman C. Mullins
Date Published: 2001
Page Count: 9
Sponsoring Agency: US Dept of Justice
Quantico, VA 22135
Sale Source: US Dept of Justice
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Behavioral Science Unit FBI Acad
Quantico, VA 22135
United States of America
Document: PDF|PDF
Type: Issue Overview
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This examination of the relationship between posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and police suicide addresses the predisposing factors, time-of-incident variables, and long-term effects that can individually or in combination contribute to suicide; an approach for preventing suicide among officers with PTSD is described.
Abstract: PTSD, which may follow a critical incident for a person, affects the person's entire system, namely, physical, psychological, cognitive, and emotional. Most long-term PTSD effects experienced by police officers are psychological or emotional. These effects may singly or in combination contribute to suicide risk. Following a critical incident, such as the shooting of a person, officers may undergo an emotional numbing, isolation, and withdrawal. This is precipitated by guilt, remorse, and sorrow for an involvement in a killing. This article argues that the elevated police suicide rate is largely attributable to police officer involvement in critical incident situations, which in turn leads to PTSD. Officers who experience PTSD are more prone to commit suicide than other officers. Even if officers apparently commit suicide because of a failed relationship, financial difficulties, or other stressors, many are suffering from PTSD as a precipitating condition that cripples their ability to cope with stressful situations. The most effective action a police agency can take to prevent PTSD-related suicides is training. Officers should be trained in all issues related to critical incidents and PTSD, including basic and comprehensive stress-management training. Officers should be taught how to exert control over and manage events that shock their emotional and physical systems. Associated with training in individual coping skills should be team-building skills that encourage communication, support, and sensitivity to the needs of other team members.
Main Term(s): Police suicide
Index Term(s): Police occupational stress; Post-trauma stress disorder (PTSD); Suicide causes; Suicide prevention
Note: A paper submitted to the Suicide and Law Enforcement Conference, FBI Academy, Quantico, VA, September 1999.
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