Suicide Prevention in U.S. Law Enforcement Agencies: a National Survey of Current Practices

  • Rajeev Ramchand
  • Jessica Saunders
  • Karen Chan Osilla
  • Patricia Ebener
  • Virginia Kotzias
  • Elizabeth Thornton
  • Lucy Strang
  • Meagan Cahill
Article

Abstract

Increasing attention is being paid to suicide among law enforcement officers, and how the agencies that employ these officers could prevent such deaths. This study presents the results of a national survey of U.S. law enforcement agencies’ strategies for preventing officer suicide. We invited 177 agencies from across the United States to be interviewed, and 110 agreed to participate in qualitative interviews. Agencies were grouped into one of four categories based on the services they offered. Agencies offered minimal (a municipal employee assistance program), basic (mental health, critical incident response procedures, and training), proactive (in-house mental health care, embedded chaplains, substance misuse programs, peer support, screening, or health and wellness programs), and integrated services (integration of services into day-to-day operations). The results indicate that many U.S. law enforcement agencies are engaged in efforts to promote officer wellness and prevent suicide. Officers’ perceptions of confidentiality may inhibit the use of in-house or contracted mental health services, while a weak or inconclusive evidence-base raises questions about common approaches like peer support or critical incident stress debriefing.

Keywords

Suicide Law enforcement Police Environmental scan 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We would like to thank Zachary Predmore and Quentin Stroud for their assistance in coding interview notes.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Supplementary material

11896_2018_9269_MOESM1_ESM.docx (24 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 24.4 kb)

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Copyright information

© Society for Police and Criminal Psychology 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.RAND CorporationArlingtonUSA
  2. 2.RAND CorporationSanta MonicaUSA
  3. 3.RAND Gulf States Policy InstituteNew OrleansUSA
  4. 4.RAND Europe, Westbrook CenterCambridgeUK

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