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Shedding Light on the Hidden Epidemic of Police Suicide in South Africa

8 Sep 2016 - 13:30

"Suicide in the South African Police Service (SAPS) is at epidemic levels. Between 2012 and 2013, 115 officers died by suicide compared to 29 officers murdered on duty, an alarming four to one ratio. Unfortunately, these statistics are not an anomaly.

Based on calculations from the SAPS annual 2012-23 report and Statistics South Africa, the number of police deaths by suicide was 73.9 per 100,000 officers. By comparison, 0.9 per 100,00 South Africans die by suicide. While the unacceptably high rate of police murders attracts much media coverage, the bigger problem of suicide among police receives little focus. 

Other countries face similar challenges but do not publish suicide statistics among police officers – even though suicide is the leading cause of death among them in most democratic countries. In the US, for example, the FBI has published only aggregated data of the number of officers injured both on and off duty since 1945 but have excluded statistics on officers who have died by suicide."

PhD Candidate and Sergeant Detective with the Irish Police Force, Gráinne Perkins, investigates the challenges and factors that play a role in this alarming and overlooked epidemic. To read her article on the matter in the Mental Health Matters Journal, click below: