Term Paper: Stress and Suicide in Law

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[. . .] (Millard, 2000) The stress that these police officers face usually affect their relationships to such a great extent that their divorce rate is nearly five times more than the general public. Also this leads to other problems like alcohol, prescription drug abuse and other sorts of domestic violence. Stress could also lead to a disturbed sleeping pattern, bad eating habits, lack of nutrition, fear, anger and depression. Including the fact that most of these officers have to face the various day-to-day problems they also have to face other post traumatic and critical incident stress situations. (Dellarte, 1989).

Lt. David Humphrey, Inspector for the Panama City Beach Police Department, states that most police officers are never over paid and when they have money problems that also includes to their stress. But most of the time it is the job and not the money that is the main cause of the stress. These officers can be commanded at any time to make instant decisions during crisis situations. All this leads to stress and if this stress is not alleviated then the officers start reacting in negative ways. As stated by Slusser in the News Herald, 1999, "We have experienced a lot of officers who did a lot of really weird things." (The News Herald, January 24, 1999) The last few years stand as proof that there have been various episodes where the local law enforcement has been involved in a lot of incidents that have surprised their superiors to a great extent, and all this can be out down to stress factors only.

An example of this could be the fact that at least two officers have committed suicide and another has tried to do so too.

Another example is that of an officer who has filed a false complaint stating that he was shot twice in a gunfight near U.S. 231 and the CCA jail annex.

A officer was charged with sexual battery twice, because of trying to offer unlawful compensation for official behavior, he supposedly asked a woman who he had picked up for DUI to take off her clothes so that he could take photographs of hers.

Another officer was charged because he was said to manufacture street drug scoop and he was said to have it with himself and also was supposed to have intention of selling it. Another officer was arrested because he stole cocaine from police custody for his use.

Male officer was charged with sexual battery on another male and was also fired because he offered alcohol to another minor officer who was 20.

The job itself is prone to a lot of stress and there are a few officers who do not really as to how to handle all that stress. In the year 1994, there were nearly 100 police officers that were in federal prison, and in the year 1998 there were more than 500, as shown by statistics of the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP). In the year 1997, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) suspended nearly eight officers, and took away their officer certification from nearly hundred and nineteen officers and also put thirty-eight officers on trial. The FDLE took note of all charges that included murder, battery, small thefts and also embezzlements (The News Herald, January 24, 1999)

The psychological defense mechanism of an officer at times becomes over stressed ultimately making the individual prone to long-term stress. When these officers are not left with an option they just shoot themselves, hence making police officer suicide an international epidemic. This police suicide is one big problem facing a lot of law enforcement agencies. The suicide rate of the New York Police is estimated to be nearly at 29 of every 100000 individuals per year, which leads us to believe that in a span in 22 hours in some part of America a law enforcement officer is committing suicide. During 1934 and 1960 the suicide rates of the police officers were nearly half of the general population. But then from 1980 to the current date this situation has changed so drastically that the death rates as to suicide has nearly doubled. An estimate states that these cops are most likely to take their own live rather than other Americans. (Horvitz, 1994) The national statistics states that nearly 162 police officers were killed in their line of duty in the year 1995, this goes to state that the New York City Police Department (NYPD) lost one officer in his line of duty and seven others committed suicide. In the year 1998, nearly 158 police officers were killed in their line of duty, out of which as stated by the national law Enforcement Officers memorial Fund, 13 of them were killed in Florida but not even one in Bay County.

The university of Buffalo conducted a study in 1996, which realized that there were eight times more chances of police to commit suicide, than to be murdered on the job and three times more than likely to kill themselves than to die in a job accident. This study went further to conclude that out of 138 individuals, who died between 1950 and 1951, 39 of them were police officers and 99 other were municipal officers. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) also lost only one special agent in the line of duty whereas they lost five to suicide. The two of the biggest law enforcement agencies in the country have lost more officers than all the other smaller agencies of law enforcement. The largest police organization, The Fraternal order of police, conducted a study of all the 270,000 members and found out that the 38,800 had committed suicide by investigating their insurance records realized in 92 local chapters in nearly 24 states. They came to realize that there were nearly 22 deaths per 100,00 officers and that the national rate itself worked up to 12 per 100,000 individuals.

This study laid emphasis on small and medium size departments that ranged from 16 to 3,000 officers. A USA TODAY survey went to prove that the nations largest law enforcement agencies also found statistics that were very upsetting. In New York City nearly 36 officers were killed in violent confrontations with suspects while on the job since 1985. In the same period, 87 officers have also taken their own lives, which amounts to a suicide rate of 15.5% per 100,000. In Los Angeles, 11 officers have been slain while they have been on duty since 1989. Twenty others have killed themselves. The suicide rate in Chicago us 20.7 per 100,000 in Chicago. Nearly 22 officers have killed themselves and a rate of 18.1 suicides per 100,000 officers has been found. After studying the various problems facing the law enforcement of the nations various agencies it can be concluded that suicide is one of the biggest problems.

The biggest stress on most police officers is suicide. These police officers kill themselves at a rate that is six times more than the general population and these police officers kill themselves at a rate of 8.3% times greater then those who actually get killed by criminals. (Violanti, 1996). The concept of police suicide is becoming common news because of the attention that is being given to New York Police. A study that was conducted on 2376 Buffalo NY police officers came to the conclusion that even when compared to the white male population, these officers had a higher rate of mortality, with various reasons being the cause like, cancer, suicide and also heart diseases and the reason for all this being high stress levels. All these studies go to prove the high level of stress that these police officers face but what is a wonder is how they react to all that stress. There seem to be four factors involved with suicide, they being, Divorce, Alcohol- not alcoholism (But this being one of the earlier theories, but when we take the actual factors, it was the usage of alcohol just before that gave them the nerve to perform the act.), Depression, and a Failure to get help, (the fact that most of the officers who have committed suicide have not really sought counseling). (McCafferty, 1992).

All these factors are basically related to stress level of the individual officer. The number of police suicide may vary every year but there is a general consensus that the police commit more suicide then the actual general public. Brown & Campbell (1994) In the United States, there has been a high suicide rate among police officers. It was also concluded that the Police officers in the United States are said to have the third highest suicide rate among its 130 occupations. (Violsanti, 1986). Nearly 300 police officers commit suicide in a year's span. These police suicides are said to be more due to relationship problems than the job stress. When considering the last fourteen suicides in the Police Department in New… [END OF PREVIEW]

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