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Suicidality among police

Stuart, Heather

doi: 10.1097/YCO.0b013e328305e4c1
Forensic psychiatry: Edited by Julio E. Arboleda-Flórez

Purpose of review This paper reviews recent international literature on suicide among police officers.

Recent findings Research examining the incidence and prevalence of suicide and suicidality among police, particularly the extent to which they constitute a high-risk group, has produced conflicting results. Police appear to be at greater risk of posttraumatic stress reactions (resulting from higher exposures to trauma) and job burnout (resulting from the way in which police work is organized), both of which increase the risk of psychosocial problems and suicide.

Summary Though worker suicide is the result of a complex interaction of personal vulnerabilities, workplace stressors, and environmental factors, research into police suicide has largely emphasized only two of these components: workplace trauma as a determinant of posttraumatic stress reactions; and organizational stressors as a determinant of job stress and burnout. Personality factors and coping styles have received less attention and there have been few attempts to understand the complex interactions between all of these factors. Prevention strategies have focused on psychological debriefing for traumatic incidents and organizational change designed to improve job commitment and reduce job burnout.

Department of Community Health and Epidemiology, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada K7L 3N6

Correspondence to Heather Stuart, PhD, Department of Community Health and Epidemiology, Queen's University, 99 University Avenue, Kingston, Ontario, Canada K7L 3N6 Tel: +1 613 533 6000 ext 77097; e-mail:

© 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.