July 31, 2021

Many suicidal thoughts among the police

The question is burning, the object of macabre counts and endless statistical debates. Do the police commit suicide more than the rest of the population? And if so, for what reasons? “In twenty-five years, 1 100 police officers killed themselves, or 44 people each year on average, the equivalent of a major departmental public security directorate wiped off the map in a generation ”, according to Benoît Briatte, the president of the Mutuelle générale de la police.

Within this “in-house” complementary health insurance organization, a veritable institution within the institution, the problem was deemed sufficiently worrying to carry out a detailed study on the well-being of police officers at work.

The survey, the technical realization of which was entrusted to the firm YCE Partners, was carried out between February 17 and March 25. A scientific committee made up of doctors and scientists recognized for their expertise in the field has been appointed. In total, 6,246 officials responded, mainly men (67%) over 45 (59%), with more than twenty years of service (58%) and in a relationship (69%), i.e. a photograph representative of the average police officer.

Read also Police suicides reach ‘extraordinary’ level in 2019

The results, interpreted and restated using statistical analysis grids, confirm a deep discomfort, the measure of which is given by a number: 24% of respondents explain having had suicidal thoughts or heard their colleagues evoke suicidal thoughts during of the last twelve months. This is, according to data collected in an epidemiological bulletin of Public Health France in 2019, 6.3 times more than employed workers.

“Non-recognition of work performed”

More than the conditions of exercise of the police profession or variables such as the level of income, the atmosphere at work appears to be a determining factor in the outbreak of suicidal thoughts. Thus, 46% of officials believing that this atmosphere is degraded are confronted with such feelings, when they concern only 32% of police officers saying they experience tensions with the public. “This question of the working atmosphere in the police constitutes the most structuring factor, explains Antoine Caullet, from YCE Partners. Relationships with superiors and colleagues, non-recognition of work done, or the feeling of not learning anything new have the strongest influence on suicidal thoughts. “

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