Year: 2019 Source: Crisis. (2019), 40(5), 360-364. SIEC No: 20190755

Background: Police officers, as first responders to difficult situations with ready access to firearms, are frequently considered to be at increased suicide risk. Aims: We aimed to calculate the suicide rate for male officers of the Portuguese National Police (PSP) and compare it with the Portuguese general population. Method: Retrospective review of the PSP male officers’ suicides between 2005 and 2014 and comparison with the suicide rate for the general Portuguese population, adjusted for sex and age. Results: A total of 39 suicides were identified, with 34 using a firearm – mostly the service one (30 cases). The average truncated (20–59 years) suicide rate for male officers was 20.6 per 100,000 person-years (95% CI =14.2–27.1). Over the same period, the rate for the general Portuguese population was 13.9 per 100,000 person-years (95% CI = 13.5–14.3). The standardized rate ratio was 1.5 (95% CI = 0.9–2.4). Limitations: Despite the 10-year period of observation, this is a small sample and there are issues with missing data, such as lack of information for retired or dismissed police officers. Denominators were converted to estimates of person-years observations and we should be mindful of the limitations in the validity of the reported rates. Conclusion: Portuguese male police officers mostly die by suicide using service firearms. The suicide rates among them were not statistically different from those of the sex- and age-adjusted general population. However, given that police officers are healthy workers, we would expect lower rates – thus, similar rates could suggest an increased risk in the study sample.