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Police Suicide: Epidemic in Blue

NCJ Number
J M Violanti
Date Published
122 pages
A researcher who was a police officer for 23 years examines police suicide, with emphasis on recent findings about causes, prevention, and impacts on survivors and services for them.
The text provides an overview of police suicide and describes 18 cases that demonstrate common suicide risk factors such as psychological difficulties, alcohol abuse, stress, and problems in relationships. The analysis notes that suicide may be considered a potentially higher risk to police officers when compared to deaths from homicides and accidents and fatalities in other occupations. The review of precipitating factors that may be present in police suicide considers police occupational stress, particularly traumatic stress; the availability of firearms; the prevalent abuse of alcohol in the profession; and the difficulties involved in retiring from police work. The author proposes a new theory of police suicide, based on the role constriction that results from organizational and peer influences. The text also suggests ways to prevent police suicide through the provision of organizationally sponsored and confidential psychological services and training in suicide awareness. The New York City police suicide prevention program is also discussed. The multiple impacts of police suicide on survivors and the role of police support in reducing psychological distress among survivors are also explained. Tables, subject and author indexes, and approximately 200 references