The impact of killing and injuring others on mental health symptoms among police officers

J Psychiatr Res. 2011 Oct;45(10):1332-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2011.05.004. Epub 2011 Jun 11.


This study examined the relationship between killing or seriously injuring someone in the line of duty and mental health symptoms in a sample of police officers (N = 400) who were first assessed during academy training and at five additional time points over three years. We found that nearly 10% of police officers reported having to kill or seriously injure someone in the line of duty in the first three years of police service. After controlling for demographics and exposure to life threat, killing or seriously injuring someone in the line of duty was significantly associated with PTSD symptoms (p < .01) and marginally associated with depression symptoms (p = .06). These results highlight the potential mental health impact of killing or seriously injuring someone in the line of duty. Greater attention to mental health services following these types of exposures can serve as a preventative measure for police officers who have been negatively impacted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology
  • Depression / psychology
  • Female
  • Homicide / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health*
  • Middle Aged
  • Police*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sampling Studies
  • Social Adjustment
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*
  • Wounds and Injuries / psychology*