Suicides of Male Portuguese Police Officers – 10 years of National Data

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Suicides of Male Portuguese Police Officers – 10 years of National Data

Category: International, Suicide|Journal: Crisis (full text)|Author: C Queiros, F Passos, T Costa|Year: 2019

Background

Police officers, as first responders to difficult situations with ready access to firearms, are frequently considered to be at increased suicide risk.

Aims

We aimed to calculate the suicide rate for male officers of the Portuguese National Police (PSP) and compare it with the Portuguese general population.

Method

Retrospective review of the PSP male officers’ suicides between 2005 and 2014 and comparison with the suicide rate for the general Portuguese population, adjusted for sex and age.

Results

A total of 39 suicides were identified, with 34 using a firearm – mostly the service one (30 cases). The average truncated (20–59 years) suicide rate for male officers was 20.6 per 100,000 person-years (95% CI =14.2–27.1). Over the same period, the rate for the general Portuguese population was 13.9 per 100,000 person-years (95% CI = 13.5–14.3). The standardized rate ratio was 1.5 (95% CI = 0.9–2.4).

Limitations

Despite the 10-year period of observation, this is a small sample and there are issues with missing data, such as lack of information for retired or dismissed police officers. Denominators were converted to estimates of person-years observations and we should be mindful of the limitations in the validity of the reported rates.

Conclusion

Portuguese male police officers mostly die by suicide using service firearms. The suicide rates among them were not statistically different from those of the sex- and age-adjusted general population. However, given that police officers are healthy workers, we would expect lower rates – thus, similar rates could suggest an increased risk in the study sample.

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