Law Enforcement Suicide Statistics
Data is based on 578 known suicides from January 1, 2016 through June 31, 2019 (as of August 10, 2019). The data is fluid, as more suicides are reported, our numbers change. In one instance, it was reported months later that the suicide was a homicide so it was removed.
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- Most of our submissions were submitted by family, co-workers and friends through this online submission form. The form was published regularly on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+ by public, private, local, national and international law enforcement pages and supporters. It was also included in the content of multiple articles written for various on-line publications in both years.
- Other suicides were found through internet searches, Facebook posts and messages to our email and Facebook messenger.
- Follow-up calls and/or e-mails were made to 100% of the submissions that checked the “contact me for further information” box on the submission form.
- Weekly Google alerts are received which show results containing key phrases such as “officer kills self”, “cop suicide”, “corrections officer suicide”, “former cop kills self”.
- In 2016 and 2017, Badge of Life was also collecting the data. Each month they submitted all their information to us, including identities, so we could match it against ours to ensure we collected all of them. In 2018, Badge of Life stopped collecting the data and merged with Blue H.E.L.P. (BH)
- In 2016, 2017 and 2018, Correctional Peace Officers Foundation (CPOF) was also collecting corrections suicide data. Each month they sent us their list so it could be added to ours if we were missing any. In 2019, they lost a few staff members and have been unable to provide that number. When we receive it, we will add to ours. If we were unable to find an obituary or public information, the “Source” column reads “CPOF”.
- Every 3 months, we searched the internet using the same key words for any that we may have missed.
- Every 3 months we re-verified EVERY suicide we had collected to date. One was removed because it was later found to be a murder staged as a suicide. As of July 23, 2019, all 579 records were re-verified in July 2019. Re-verification is done by splitting the list into groups of 10-15 officers. Soliciting assistance from trusted volunteers and families. Giving each volunteer a copy of the 10-15 names. Asking them to scour the internet and verify/add information by highlighting it in red. Lists were then re-merged and compared once again, line by line by the Blue H.E.L.P. team.
- Each January, an e-mail was sent to the chief, deputy chief and administrative assistant in 3 major cities and 20 smaller cities/towns in each state for a total of 1,150 police departments. The same e-mail was sent to 3 corrections facilities in each state for a total of 150 facilities. These e-mails requested data on any suicides that occurred in the previous year. ~77% responded.
- Every 3 months e-mails were also sent to 163 organizations in the US that support first responders asking them to report what they know.
- Attendance at national and regional law enforcement conferences as guests and speakers also promote our data collection.
- We contacted the department of public health in 5 states and none were able to provide much information, so we abandoned this method.
- Any submissions that could not be verified OR were not from a known, trusted source, have been removed – total of 17 over 3 years.
- A NJ organization collected 27% more suicide than Blue H.E.L.P. in NJ since January 1, 2016. Because of this discrepancy, we believe there are more known suicide that are not reported to us. Confidentiality and policy prevents them from sharing any identifying information to us so we can find the missing suicides.
- There may be a gap with federal officers, we have “heard” there are others from people within the federal government, but they have not made submissions.
- Some reported “Married” but later informed us they were separated. We have fixed those but do not know how many others are in the same situation.
- Some of the “Comments” were pulled from internet articles and obituaries.
- “Recent event” reflects something that happened with 60 days of the suicide.
- Our data is a raw number of suicides, there are no assumptions made.
- Some information remains “unknown” as the families are only willing to provide basic information, we have been asked not to contact the family for follow up or, there is no contact information listed when the information is only partially submitted.
- We do not record “how they heard about us” so we cannot say which method worked best. We did receive multiple submissions on many of the suicides, so we know that we were reaching more than one person in certain regions.
- When we began data collection in 2016, we would receive notification of the suicide weeks, and sometimes months, afterward. As of July 1, 2019, 80% of the suicides we receive are within hours of the deaths.
- In addition to the data points on the submission form, 19 other data points are collected from the families and/or departments.
Data collection points are as follows and can be seen on our form:
|Gender||Manner of Death|
|Date of Death||Name of Department|
|Age at time of death||Duty Status|
|Years of Service||Year left force|
|Rank||Had the officer sought help?|
|Off/ On Duty||Was there a history of job related PTSD?|
|Military Veteran||Were there prior suicide attempts?|
|Marital Status||Was the officer under investigation at the time of death?|
|Children?||Was it a murder/suicide?|
|# of Children|
We look forward to providing you with more data and continuing to collect this information. Please record any information you may have on our website to ensure we have not missed any deaths.
We are happy to provide more information upon request to firstname.lastname@example.org