Year: 2021 Source: Journal of the Society for Social Work and Research. (2020). 11(4), SIEC No: 20210083

Objective: Given the high frequency with which law enforcement officers (LEOs) encounter people challenged by mental health issues, including those at risk for suicide, this paper addresses the need to understand officers’ use of suicide-prevention strategies in the community and factors that might impact those prevention activities. Method: A nonrandom sample of 476 LEOs completed a series of anonymous online surveys measuring their experiences encountering suicidal individuals in the community, previous suicide intervention training, levels of knowledge and self-efficacy for engaging in intervention activities, attitudes toward suicide intervention, and use of seven LEO-specific community-based intervention activities. Results: LEOs rated their perceived knowledge as positive even though scores for factual knowledge were low. Self-efficacy and attitudes toward prevention were generally positive. Multiple regression analyses indicate statically significant differences between LEOs with previous training on three of the seven intervention activities related to identifying and assessing suicide risk. Conclusions: Results of this study are consistent with similar studies in other nonclinical populations. Suicide intervention training and self-efficacy are the strongest predictors of engagement in suicide intervention activities. Results support a call for systematic suicide training in law enforcement.