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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 200716 Find in a Library
Title: Cop Killer: More Law Enforcement Officers Are Slain by Their Own Hands Than Any Other Cause
Journal: Police: The Law Enforcement Magazine  Volume:27  Issue:5  Dated:May 2003  Pages:18-21
Author(s): Melanie Hamilton
Date Published: May 2003
Page Count: 4
Type: Issue Overview
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article discusses suicide among police officers.
Abstract: Many police suicides go unreported and there is no central source of information for the number of police suicides. According to statistics collected by the National Police Suicide Foundation, a police officer takes his or her life every 22 hours. Risk factors for suicide in general include marital problems, substance abuse, and a family member suicide. Other risk factors are part of police culture. Suspended police officers and those under investigation are more likely to kill themselves. Police officers are under a great deal of pressure to perform under traumatic circumstances. This leads to a lot of pent-up emotion. The type of people that become police officers might be more susceptible to suicide because of the high expectations they put on themselves. Many police officers see themselves as heroes. Unfortunately, the public doesn’t always agree and this disconnect can lead to depression and rage. Police officers often ignore difficulties in their professional or personal lives for fear that acknowledging them could lead to their dismissals. An officer’s proximity to traumatic experiences can magnify already existent problems. The main reasons for police suicide are death of a child or spouse, loss of a child or spouse through divorce, terminal illness, responsibility for partner’s death, killing someone out of anger, indictment, feeling all alone, sexual accusation, loss of job due to conviction of a crime, and being locked up. Law enforcement culture can make it difficult for police officers to talk about the small events that cause stress in their lives. Police administrators and loved ones should know the warning signs of suicide. Classes on depression and suicide should be offered. Friends ought to suggest that the officer seek help if they are concerned about suicide. A suicide awareness program should be offered, as well as psychological services.
Main Term(s): Police stress training; Police suicide
Index Term(s): Behavior under stress; Critical incident stress; Police occupational stress; Police subculture; Stress management; Suicide
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