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Police Officers and Suicide

            Suicide is a heartfelt issue no matter where it strikes but it's also not a very popular topic in the law enforcement and police culture. Last year, 126 police officers ended their own lives, according to data released in August by a national study of police suicides performed by the Badge of Life, a Connecticut-based website run by active and retired police officers, medical professionals, and family members of suicide victims. According to Badge of Life, police officers commit suicide at a higher rate than those in other occupations, with the exception of military personnel. Suicides can happen in any profession, but they occur 1.5 times more frequently in law enforcement compared to the general population. Law enforcement officers kill themselves at a rate of 18/100,000 vs. 12/100,000 of the rest of the US.  Also, the actual rate is probably higher as law enforcement suicides are more likely to be underreported or misclassified as accidental deaths. This misclassification usually occurs to protect the family, other survivors, or the agency from the stigma of suicide (Kulbarsh, 2013).
             Research has shown police officers tend to be very personally invested in their professional role as law enforcement officers. Police officers often get into this line of work believing its sort of a greater 'calling'. The nature of police work is often negative as citizens seldom call for service when things are going well. Over the course of an officer's career they may become accustomed to dealing with the horrors of tragic events, deaths, and facing societies ills that the strong culture of police (masculine/tough image) can potentially have a reverse or worsening effect on the shocking police suicide statistics presented above. The majority of their work consists of taking care of others where they are trained and hard-pressed to take on the minute they walk out of the academy. However, little to no training is implemented to the nature of maintaining positive emotion or dealing with the negative emotions once they walk away from their 'call of duty'.

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