Law Enforcement Suicide Statistics
Since January 1, 2016, Blue H.E.L.P. (BH) has been compiling a list of law enforcement officers lost to suicide; this information includes corrections and federal officers of all duty status. In addition to officers that have died since 2016, BH has information on officers dating back to 1979 and now has over 1,000 records of those deaths.
We do not post the names and faces of all officers without permission of the family. Suicide is a different type of death and grief, while we work with Officer Down Memorial Page (ODMP), we cannot create a page like theirs because of the privacy requested by the families. We will not betray their trust.
We do not pull coroner reports or medical records. In some case, permission of the family is required and there is a fee associated with it. While we engage researchers to assist us, we are not a research organization and use this information for awareness and family support.
Our numbers are rolling numbers, as new deaths are reported, the number is adjusted accordingly.
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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 is also included in the content of multiple articles written for various on-line publications.
- ODMP forwards all suicides that are sent to them.
- Data and the collection method had been reviewed with the American Association of Suicidology, American Foundation of Suicide Prevention in addition to other researchers and epidemiologists.
- Other suicides were found through internet searches, Facebook posts and messages to our email and Facebook messenger.
- We use the same data verification method as Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance, please report firefighter suicides to them.
- 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, we compared data with other organizations that were collecting data. Each month we compared the information to ensure we collected all officers. In 2018, the organizations stopped collecting the data, we then merged the existing with the data that BH has been collecting.
- Correctional Peace Officers Foundation (CPOF) also collects corrections suicide data. Each month we compare data to ensure we both have all deaths. In 2019, they lost a few staff members and have been unable to provide that number. 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. 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 BH team. As of January 1, 2020, we will re-verify the past 12 months rather than the entire data set.
- Each January, an e-mail is 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 is 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. ~70% responded.
- Every 3 months e-mails are 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 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 19 over 4 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 prevent 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 January 1, 2020, 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