Behind the blue shadow: a theoretical perspective for detecting police suicide

School of Public Health and Health Professions, Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, State University of New York at Buffalo Buffalo, New York, USA.
International journal of emergency mental health 11/2012; 14(1):37-40.
Source: PubMed


Police officers are at increased risk for suicide. Reluctance by this population to self-report suicidal thoughts requires detection on a different level. Based on existing theory, this paper discusses a possible alternative method for detecting suicidal tendencies among police officers: the suicide Implicit Association Test (IAT). The IAT measures the implicit strength of cognitive identification with death opposed to life. Previous work has demonstrated that a cognitive identification with death over life is associated with both suicide attempts and completions. The clinical application of implicit cognitions, along with other proven clinical measures, may be of value in detecting suicide ideation in police officers or other high suicide risk groups who are hesitant to explicitly report suicidal thoughts. More research is needed to help clarify the clinical usefulness of the IAT and its validity over time.

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Questions & Answers about this publication

  • Béatrice Marianne Ewalds-Kvist added an answer in Police:
    What are the predictors of suicide for officers working in the police force?

    I am assisting on research on predictors of suicide for police officers. One conjecture is stress encountered as part of their work with males predicted to have a higher rate of suicide than female officers. What factors, aside from stress, could be contributing to this? Would gender have a significant input?

    Is there anyone who has attempted any research in this particular area or has worked with the police doing research? 

    Béatrice Marianne Ewalds-Kvist

    Dear Dorita, 

    Check these out: 

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      ABSTRACT: Further inquiry into processes that lead to suicide in the police occupation is necessary. Suicide ideation in police officers and possible correlates associated with such ideation is explored in this paper. The focus was on psychologically traumatic police work experiences, the development of posttraumatic stress (PTSD) in officers, and the inordinate use of alcohol associated with this condition. The impact of these occupationally based factors and their association with suicide ideation has not yet been fully explored. Results suggest that certain traumatic police work exposures increase the risk of high level PTSD symptoms, which subsequently increase the risk of high alcohol use and suicide ideation. The combined impact of PTSD and increased alcohol use led to a ten-fold increase risk for suicide ideation.
      Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior 02/2004; 34(3):277-83. DOI:10.1521/suli.

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