Report finds 184 law enforcement, corrections officers die by suicide per year on average By:


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By Joanna PutmanPolice1

WASHINGTON — More than 1,200 law enforcement and corrections officers died by suicide between 2016 and 2022, ABC News reported.

The statistic comes from a newly released report by First HELP, an organization that tracks first responder suicides, and CNA Corporation, a nonpartisan research organization, obtained by ABC. The report shows that 184 law enforcement officers died by suicide on average per year, according to the report.

“Future analyses of these data can deepen our understanding of the factors associated with suicide among public safety personnel and facilitate comparisons of suicide rates across various geographies, states, races, sexes, and age groups, as well as with other industries,” the report said.

The highest year measured was 2019, when First HELP identified 234 deaths by suicide. The number dipped in 2020 to 184, showing that the year of the COVID-19 pandemic “may have provided public safety personnel with a renewed sense of purpose and meaning in their roles, potentially acting as a protective factor against suicidal ideation and reducing the incidence of suicide that has been observed in past research,” according to the report.

The report found that 51% of officer deaths by suicide involved officers from local police departments, 20% were from sheriff’s offices and 13% were corrections officers. The majority of the deaths occurred in departments with more than 100 sworn officers.

Most of the suicides involved actively serving officers, while 17% involved retired officers and 5% involved officers who had been fired, according to the report.

“Roughly 23 percent reported some level of help-seeking behaviors before the officer’s death by suicide,” the report said. “The highest proportion of help-seeking behaviors among public safety personnel was related to seeking treatment for PTSD, a mental health issue known to have a significant correlation with suicidal tendencies. Approximately 17 percent of officers sought assistance for PTSD, and 7 percent sought help for any form of mental health treatment.”

The report also emphasized the importance of improved federal databases on officer suicides.

“The absence of a systematic, national, and comprehensive data collection effort of public safety deaths by suicide has prevented the field from better understanding the extent of the problem,” Dan Lawrence, a Senior Research Associate at CNA told ABC News.