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The Impact of a Law Enforcement Suicide on Colleagues Open Access

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AbstractThe Impact of a Law Enforcement Officers’ Suicide on ColleaguesThe suicide epidemic has impacted individuals from across the globe in staggering numbers. Within the law enforcement community, suicide has been described as one of the most lethal threats to officers with reported officer suicides at two to three times that of officers killed in the line of duty. The purpose of this study was to explore the lived experiences of law enforcement officers concerning another law enforcement officer’s suicide and the impact a law enforcement officer’s suicide has on a law enforcement agency/department. Data was collected through the process of in-depth, semi-structured interviews of 11 sworn law enforcement officers who experienced a colleague’s suicide within the past 7 years (2010-2016). All interviews were conducted in person using an interview protocol as a guide. The resulting interview data was analyzed using Braun & Clarke’s (2006) six step-by-step guide to thematic analysis producing four major themes: (1) Uniqueness of the law enforcement community (2) Lack of available resources regarding mental health services (3) Reactive response to the suicide event and (4) The necessity for consistent mental health services and the promotion of services by the administration. Analysis of the participant responses within each theme produced subsequent subthemes for themes one and two, which are outlined in this study. The findings addressed the two primary research questions of this study: (a) What are the barriers to seeking mental health assistance for law enforcement officers? (b) How do law enforcement officers describe and experience the response after a colleagues’ suicide? Recommendations for law enforcement administrators as well as suggestions for contributions to future research were discussed.

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