Suicide exposure in law enforcement officers
Cerel, J., Jones, B., Brown, M., Weisenhorn, D.A., & Patel, K.
To examine occupational and personal suicide exposure among Law Enforcement Officers (LEOs) and related mental health outcomes.
Law Enforcement Officers (N = 813) completed an online survey about their suicide exposure, whether scenes stayed with them, and current symptoms of depression, anxiety, PTSD, and suicidal ideation.
Almost all participants (95%) had responded to at least one suicide scene with an average of 30.90 (SD = 57.28) career suicide scenes and 2.17 in the last year (SD = 4.11). One in five (22%) reported a scene that they cannot shake or have nightmares about, and 42.5% reported one scene that stayed with them. Almost three fourths (73.4%) knew someone personally who had died by suicide. There was a significant association between high levels of occupational exposure to suicide and behavioral health consequences including PTSD, persistent thoughts of a suicide scene, and the inability to shake a scene. The inability to shake a scene and having a scene stick with them was associated with increased symptoms of depression, anxiety, PTSD, and suicidal ideation.
LEOs experience a tremendous amount of exposure to suicide scenes and also have personal exposure. There is a need for training to mitigate the effect of these multiple traumas on their mental health.