158 American Police Officers Died by Suicide in 2018.
For the third straight year, COP suicides exceeded all combined causes of line-of-duty deaths. In 2018, at least 158 officers died by suicide, nine percent more than the total number of line-of-duty deaths resulting from 15 other causes such as felonious assault, patrol vehicle accident, heart attack, and duty-related illness.
The single greatest cause of death for law enforcement officers each year is suicide. California (12), Texas (12) and Florida (10) had the highest number of officer suicides. At least 12 officers killed themselves on duty—in their patrol car or at their agency.
Of the 2018 officers who died as a result of suicide, 150 were male and 8 were female. The average age was 41 years with an average length of 15 years of service. In December alone, 19 officers died by suicide. In contrast, there were 10 line-of-duty deaths. December was not an unusual month. Deaths by suicide exceeded all combined causes of duty death nearly every month in 2018.
Nor was 2018 an unusual year. Last year, the number of officers dying by suicide was 159. In contrast, the total number of duty deaths in 2017 was 137—roughly half of those deaths were the result of felonious assault such as gunfire, vehicular assault, and the like. Other causes included patrol vehicle accidents, heart attacks, duty-related illness, and others.
In fact, the ratio of felonious deaths to other causes has remained at about 1:1 for decades. The problem is, we know there are other tragic deaths by suicide that we don’t know about. So as bad a number as we have this year, we know in reality the number is higher.