The phenomenon of suicide became a concern, since we observe an increase in
the number of suicides, in general, but also in police officers, often using the service
weapon and in the job context. It is therefore urgent to study this phenomenon, which
some studies associate with the consequences of burnout as an inadequate response
to chronic job stress.
This work has as research problem the stress/burnout and suicidal ideation in the
police forces, posing as research question: will operational/organizational stress and
burnout constitute predictors of suicidal ideation in the police forces? Its objectives are:
to identify the levels of operational and organizational stress, and of burnout in a sample
of police; to know their suicidal ideation; to verify if stress, burnout and suicidal ideation
vary according to sociodemographic and professional characteristics; and to verify if
stress and burnout are predictors of suicidal ideation.
An anonymous and confidential questionnaire was applied online, between
February and October 2021, to 1802 police officers, after institutional authorization. This
questionnaire included sociodemographic and labor questions and the Portuguese
versions of the Operational Police Stress Questionnaire, Organizational Police Stress
Questionnaire, Oldenburg Burnout Inventory and Adult Suicidal Ideation Questionnaire.
The results revealed that police officers presented moderate averages of
operational stress, organizational stress and burnout, and low averages of suicidal
ideation. However, due to the dispersion of the results, an analysis of the authors' cutoff
levels was performed, revealing 72% of the sample with high operational stress, 62%
with high organizational stress, 56% in burnout, and 68% presenting suicidal ideation, of
which 3% in the last month. Comparative analyses revealed that male police officers,
with fewer qualifications, in the position of agent/guard, working in shifts, and doing
operational tasks are the ones with the highest levels of stress/burnout. Suicidal ideation
did not presented significant differences. There are significant correlations between
stress, burnout and suicidal ideation, which is explained in 20% by the other variables,
namely 7.3% by burnout, 6.5% by operational stress, 3.3% by organizational stress and
2.1% by professional variables, without significant explanatory contribution of
Thus, it is necessary to adopt stress management strategies to avoid that stress
become burnout, as well as to reflect about suicidal ideation, as it is often associated
with suicidal behaviors and suicide per se.