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140 Officers Committed Suicide in 2017

April 20, 2018  | 

Suicides left more officers and firefighters dead last year than all line-of-duty deaths combined — a jarring statistic that continues to plague first responders but garners little attention. 

A new study by the Ruderman Family Foundation, a philanthropic organization that works for the rights of people with disabilities, looked at depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and other issues affecting first responders and the rates of suicide in departments nationwide.

The group found that while suicide has been an ingrained issue for years, very little has been done to address it even though first responders have PTSD and depression at a level five times that of civilians.

Last year, 103 firefighters and 140 police officers committed suicide, whereas 93 firefighters and 129 officers died in the line of duty, which includes everything from being fatally shot, stabbed, drowning or dying in a car accident while on the job.

Miriam Heyman, one of the co-authors of the study, told USA Today the numbers of suicide are extremely under-reported, while other more high-profile deaths make headlines. There were 46 officers who died after being fatally shot on the job in 2017, nearly 67% less than the number of suicides. 

Related Articles:

Preventing Police Suicides

Taking Care of Yourself

Police Suicides: Cop Killer

Comments (7)

Displaying 1 - 7 of 7

Sgt (ret) Jim Duncan @ 4/20/2018 6:50 PM

I am a 30 year vet Police Officer. I have witnessed officer fold right on the spot and go home never to come back. I did my career as what was called "a dirt solider". Having been involved in several gun fights and serious critical incidents. I have buried two good friend who were murdered in the line of duty in the prime of their life. After Mark was killed I went to the door of his house and knocked-- Liz answered the door pregnant and their little boy hanging on her leg asking for his daddy.
seen it all and suffered thru some tough time including a serious injury of my own leaving me partially disabled. There is no getting out whole?
One thing saved my life and turned me around; changing my heart!
Christ! That is correct Jesus Christ! I am not religious, not a JW or LDS or Catholic and I am not throwing rocks at them just not a religious man.
I gave my life up and in return I gained my life back.
Nothing like knowing the one who knew u before the womb!

F. Mews @ 4/21/2018 4:42 AM

Until we confront this 800 lb. gorilla in the room, our brothers & sisters will continue to die by their own hand. Truth be told, I bet that factoring in the less-direct deaths (overdoses, alcohol-related deaths, etc) due to poor coping characteristics in these officers, this figure is actually significantly higher.

Oddly, many of these suicides are by our most-decorated personnel as well, those with critical indecent histories, partners who’ve lost a fellow officer very close to them, or investigated the absolute worst crimes. We owe it to them, and ourselves, to confront this crisis, and support our brothers & sisters into either getting the rehab that they need, or removing the stigma, and helping them honorably retire.

Cash @ 4/22/2018 11:00 AM

Sgt Jim Duncan....Spot on.

Bill Bolt @ 4/22/2018 2:58 PM

Suicides are the most obvious evidence difficulties and struggles but a suggested that is not the only. I suspect that many of our unhealthy lifestyle choices failed marriages, substance abuse, overweight ....are all driven from the stress that we encounter in the field. I also suspect that is not necessarily the duties in the job that are most hazardous. In speaking with my peers I hear many stories regarding difficulties with administration and partners. Law enforcement is a career field that seems to chew up the strongest of us and has no pity or mercy on those of us that are vulnerable.

Chaplain. M. Acton @ 4/23/2018 7:16 AM

Both are well said! I must say, as an LE chaplain, Christ IS the only Answer. “Knowing the One Who knew you before the womb” offers the perfect answers and solutions to every situation.
There is no stronger officer or firefighter than the one who knows his limits and when to call for backup.

Rick Barton @ 4/25/2018 7:48 AM

Prolonged exposure to traumatic incidents continues to cause damage to the lives of first responders and their families. After my law enforcement career ended, I devoted myself to the work of the ICISF ( seeking to help. Let's keep this dialogue moving forward and create positive change.

tedb @ 4/26/2018 4:25 PM

SGT Duncan and Mark Acton...right on! Christ is the answer, if you only ask his help. He's waiting!

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