According to the website Blue H.E.L.P. (Honor, Educate, Lead, Prevent), 228 police officers killed themselves in 2019, an increase of 35% and the fourth consecutive year of rising suicides. The number of police officers who killed themselves was tragically four times higher than officers killed in the line of duty, with the greatest number of suicides in California and Texas.
The public is largely unaware of the rising mental health epidemic affecting law enforcement. Besides a greater rate of suicide, there is also a higher rate of domestic violence and higher rates of addiction in policing than the general public. According to Matt Agorist, an honorably discharged veteran and independent journalist, addressing mental health issues should be a top priority within law enforcement.
He wrote on the Free Thought Project: “The public must realize the dire situation, and extreme scope of the mental health epidemic currently facing law enforcement. There’s an extremely high rate of suicide, a domestic violence crisis and much higher rates of addiction in policing than the general public. It’s clear that the mental health issues affecting law enforcement should be a top priority if we hope to stem the number of citizens and cops being killed by police in America.”
While it is not precisely clear why more police officers kill themselves than the general public, critics believe lack of mental health resources are one problem, as are stigmas surrounding officers seeking help.
Agorist wrote on the Free Thought Project: “We need to start looking at this increasing rate of officer suicides and realize the underlying problems attributing to them. If we can begin to correct those problems, the cops shooting citizens rate may start to fall, too.”