Police Suicide: Breaking down the walls

Police Suicide: Breaking down the walls
By: Jim Ford, Ph.D.

Access to firearms, continuous exposure to human tragedy, shift work, social strain and marital difficulties, physical illness and alcohol are all contributing factors to why police officers commit suicide.

From the headlines, June 2019, two veteran police officers earlier this month from NYPD took their own lives within a 24-hour period.

Chicago Tribune, May 2019 – According to an 8-month study, six police officers have committed suicide. The administration of the Chicago PD are quite worried.

In the first four months of this year in France, French police officers committed suicide once every four days; a new report revealed 24 officers have taken their own lives. These statistics are staggering and mind-boggling.

There is a code of secrecy when it comes to mental illness in police agencies around the country and it’s a code that needs to be broken. According to Badge of Life, there is an average of 130 law enforcement suicides each year, or 11 per month. More officers die of suicide than from shootings and motor vehicle accidents combined. Police officers are eight times more likely to commit suicide than to be killed in a homicide and three times more likely to kill themselves than to die in job-related accidents (Villa, 2000). Badge of Life is a nonprofit organization and focuses on educational and training law enforcement in the area of mental health and suicide prevention.

We have to break down the wall that prevents us from admitting we have a problem and seek help before its too late. We have to take care of our brothers and sisters in blue. Don’t feel ashamed or embarrassed to ask for help. Make a call and see help NOW!

Dr. Jim Ford is a retired police lieutenant from Chatham Township. Currently,Professor, Chairperson and Director of the Criminal Justice Program at the College of Saint Elizabeth in Morristown, NJ jford@cse.edu