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Police Stress and the Suicide Link

NCJ Number
Police Chief Volume: 63 Issue: 10 Dated: (October 1996) Pages: 85-96
J P Cummings
Date Published
12 pages
This article examines factors that contribute to suicide by law enforcement officers.
Contrary to the widespread belief that external factors are the greatest sources of stress, burnout, suicide and destructive work habits, studies suggest that the link between police stress and suicide comes from something other than the street officer's daily activities. Police officers are well aware of the dangers of the job and are as prepared as they can be for these dangers. The difficult part is dealing with the unknown, the politics and internal stressors that they had no idea would be a daily part of the job. A study of police officers in eight municipal agencies in Illinois indicated that, of the five categories listed (organization, task environment, judiciary, personal and family concerns, and city government), the most significant source of stress was the organization itself. The following list, derived from that study, reveals what the average police officer considers the major contributors to stress within the organization: (1) concerns over equitable treatment by upper management; (2) shift changes; (3) advancement and assignment; (4) ambiguous policies and rules; (5) case load; (6) fears of internal investigations and reviews; (7) paper work; and (8) peer pressure. Endnotes