In the United States, law enforcement officers are almost three times as likely to encounter suicides on the job than murders — according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the FBI, in 2019 there were 47,478 suicides compared with 16,425 murders. Out of 39,707 gun-related deaths that same year, 23,941 (60.3%) were suicides.
Police officers are often called upon to respond to situations where someone has attempted suicide, is contemplating it, or is experiencing a mental health crisis. In their mission to protect and serve, it is critical that officers know what to say and do in these situations.
The public calls the police when they need help with a situation that has gotten out of their control. They trust the police to have the skills and confidence necessary to make a bad situation better. Officers receive extensive training and certifications related to almost every other aspect of their jobs — it is time for law enforcement to move beyond simply being aware about suicide and mental health and implement suicide prevention and intervention skills training for all officers.