The incidence of police officer suicide and the related topics of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the emotional health of officers has demanded the attention of law enforcement leaders for decades. Yet, year after year, more officers take their own lives than are killed in the line of duty.1 The need to address the conditions within the law enforcement profession and culture that contribute to these tragedies has never been greater.
By the time a police officer is seriously contemplating suicide, a chain of events has taken place that puts leaders well behind the curve. At this point, direct, compassionate, non-stigmatizing administrative intervention may be the only available option. Linking at-risk officers with skilled professional services, implementing a safety plan, and establishing clear guidelines regarding any possible return to work to reinforce hope are important steps to protect the officer, his or her coworkers, and the organization.