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167 AMERICAN POLICE OFFICERS DIED BY SUICIDE IN 2018 December 31, 2018

UPDATED JUNE 15, 2019 – as new deaths are reported, our numbers are updated

For the third straight year, police officer suicides exceed all combined causes of line-of-duty deaths.

In 2018, at least 167 officers died by suicide, more than the total number of line-of-duty deaths resulting from 15 other causes such as felonious assault, patrol vehicle accident, heart attack, duty-related illness.

“The reports of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty during 2018 is a tremendous loss,” said Jeff McGill, co-founder of Blue H.E.L.P., an organization that tracks officer suicides while simultaneously seeking to prevent such tragedies from occurring.

“As tragic as these duty deaths are, the single greatest cause of death for law enforcement officers each year is suicide,” McGill added.

California (14) and Texas (12) had the highest number of officer suicides. At least 12 officers killed themselves on duty—in their patrol car or at their agency.

Of the 2018 officers who died as a result of suicide, 159 were male and 8 were female. The average age was 42 years with an average length of 16 years of service.

In December alone, 22 officers died by suicide. In contrast, there were 10 line-of-duty deaths.

December was not an unusual month. Deaths by suicide exceeded all combined causes of duty death nearly every month in 2018.

Nor was 2018 an unusual year. In 2017, the number of officers dying by suicide was 169. In contrast, the total number of duty deaths in 2017 was 174 — forty of those deaths we 9/11 related illness and roughly half of the remaining 137 of those deaths were the result of felonious assault such as gunfire, vehicular assault, and the like.

Other causes included patrol vehicle accidents, heart attacks, duty-related illness, and others.

In fact, the ratio of felonious deaths to other causes has remained at about 1:1 for decades.

“We’ve collected as much information as we possibly can on the names of officers who die by suicide every year,” said Steven Hough, co-founder of Blue H.E.L.P.

“The problem is, we know there are other tragic deaths by suicide that we don’t know about. So as bad a number as we have this year, we’re saddened by the fact that we know in reality the number is higher,” Hough added.

Blue H.E.L.P. has pushed to improve the availability of mental health resources for officers across the country and to normalize the treatment of post-traumatic stress symptoms.

“There is very little money being spent to reduce the numbers of officer suicides,” said Karen Solomon, co-founder of Blue H.E.L.P. “We hope that by raising awareness about the scope of this problem—and shining a light on the need for increased mental health resources directed to officers approaching crisis—we can ultimately reduce the number of officers who die by suicide.”

Solomon concluded, “Taking a real stance on officer safety will require us to address the elephant in the room.  Addressing officer wellness which includes spiritual, mental, social, and physical health should be the number one priority for each agency head in 2019.”

 

Editor’s Note

The statistics released herein are based on preliminary data compiled by Blue H.E.L.P. and do not represent a final list of individual officers who died as a result of suicide during 2018.

Comments(43)

  1. REPLY
    Jarod Muncy says

    Too sad

  2. REPLY
    Ben says

    I’m a retired police officer. I’ve known several police officers who committed suicide in my 31 year career. Beside making small donations what can I do to help. I knew em, but I was never close to these officers. We forgot about the their families that they left behind.

    • REPLY
      Joey Phillippi says

      Ben are you still connected to your old police agency? Do they have a peer support team established within the agency? Do they train regularly for mental health issues for officers, such as understanding vicarious trauma, PTSD for officers, compassion fatigue, hypervigilance and how to identify the signs? If not, I would be reaching out to encourage these things be added to the agency asap.

  3. REPLY
    Tina Swanno says

    As a retired LEO who now teaches academics and future LEO’s I am reminded daily of the lives lost and struggle to stay in contact with each officer I have helped put on the street. The idea of bullet proof or superman has to be dismantled but it has to start within the ranks. Based on comments left on FB when a suicide is posted many cops still have that crap macho attitude that only the weak commit suicide. Bullshit! How can we be a blue family if we wont stop to help a brother or sister unless they are being shot at? Academy training must incorporate the idea that you can only handle so much gore and tragedy and despair before you yourself will be affected mentally. Is there any wonder we have PTSD, failed marriages, alcoholism, drug addiction, abuse of authority, police brutality and more? Why are we great at helping everyone else but not each other??!!

  4. REPLY
    Frank Ford says

    Prayers and blessings to all LEO families still healing from these tragedies, and to all active and retired LEOs for their service and sacrifice. May they all be kept safe from any kind of sudden death.

  5. REPLY
    Clinton E. Medeiros says

    My wife, Lieutenant Cheri Medeiros if the Alameda county sheriff’s office was one of the officers who committed suicide on 2018. I don’t know how to stop this. Our Agency has an amazing peer support team, employee assistance program and continual training. My only advice would be if you suspect someone needs help they are probably already in a high level of need. Be assertive when suggesting they seek help. We need to save ourselves and each other.

  6. REPLY
    Devin Smith says

    I would like to know how many of those officers were veterans? Not to discount. I want to try and start tracking more and I’m compiling data

    • REPLY
      Karen says

      Twenty four, the rest were career law enforcement officers.

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