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. 2013;15(4):289-97.

Law Enforcement Suicide: A National Analysis

  • PMID: 24707591

Law Enforcement Suicide: A National Analysis

John M Violanti et al. Int J Emerg Ment Health. .


Previous research suggests that there is an elevated risk of suicide among workers within law enforcement occupations. The present study examined the proportionate mortality for suicide in law enforcement in comparison to the US working population during 1999, 2003-2004, and 2007, based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health National Occupational Mortality Surveillance data. We analyzed data for all law enforcement occupations and focused on two specific law enforcement occupational categories-detectives/criminal investigators/ police and corrections officers. Suicides were also explored by race, gender and ethnicity. The results of the study showed proportionate mortality ratios (PMRs) for suicide were significantly high for all races and sexes combined (all law enforcement--PMR = 169, 95% CI = 150-191, p < 0.01, 264 deaths; detectives/criminal investigators/police--PMR = 182, 95% CI = 150-218, p < 0.01, 115 deaths; and corrections officers-PMR = 141, 95% CI = 111-178, p < 0.01, 73 deaths). Detectives/criminal investigators/police had the higher suicide risk (an 82% increase) compared to corrections officers (a 41% increase). When analyzed by race and sex, suicide PMRs for Caucasian males were significantly high for both occupations-detectives/ criminal investigators/police (PMR = 133; 95% CI = 108-162, p < 0.01; corrections officers--PMR = 134, 95% CI = 102-173, p < 0.01). A significantly high (PMR = 244, p < 0.01, 95% CI = 147-380) ratio was found among Hispanic males in the law enforcement combined category, and a similarly high PMR was found among Hispanic detectives/criminal investigators/police (PMR = 388, p < 0.01, 95% CI = 168-765). There were small numbers of deaths among female and African American officers. The results included significantly increased risk for suicide among detectives/criminal investigators/police and corrections officers, which suggests that additional study could provide better data to inform us for preventive action.

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