Police union warns of increasing number of suicides among officers

by Lorraine Williamson
suicide among police

VALENCIA – The Spanish police union Jupol has warned of the critical suicide situation in the police services in the Valencian Community due to the lack of personnel and sufficient resources to fight the wave of – increasing – violence. 

The union has reported a shortage of material and human resources in the main police stations in the Valencian provinces of Alicante, Castellón and Valencia. Consequently, this leads to psychological problems among the agents. 

The constant shift changes, weekend shifts and night shifts make it difficult for agents to maintain relationships and cause tensions in their personal lives. The suicide rate among police officers is also high due to traumatic events on the job and personal problems. According to union data, a police officer takes his or her life every 20 days. 

Establishment of psychological support service 

Jupol has launched a psychological support service to help officers in crisis situations and reduce the suicide rate. “We have a team of psychologists to help, listen and refocus colleagues who have serious personal issues at some point.” The goal is to try “to help them see the light again and get out of that quagmire they got into, a spiral they often can’t get out of on their own,” says Aarón Rivero in El Español. 

Jupol’s chairman has met with officers and officials of the national police several times in recent weeks to hear their demands. According to data from the Ministry of the Interior, crimes in the Valencian Community have increased by more than 16% compared to 2022. 

The numbers 

The police force is one of the professions with the highest suicide rates in the world. Every year they top the list, along with lawyers and doctors. However, in Spain the problem sometimes gets worse. In 2022, 13 Guardia Civil agents and 8 agents of the National Police took their own lives. With that, the suicide rate increased by 54% compared to the average for the general population. 

According to the Interior Ministry, 107 officers committed suicide between 2014 and 2018, made up of 50 national police officers and 57 guardia civil. However, the Zero Police Suicide platform recorded a different number. Between 2016 and 2018 alone, they say total of 45 guardia civil, 33 national police officers, 19 local police officers and 6 regional police officers took their own lives. 

Traumatic events and weapon access 

One of the reasons for these high figures is that officers often encounter traumatic events in the course of their work. Furthermore, having access to a weapon makes it easier for them to end life. It is known that the degree to which a person has access to a method of ending life influences suicide rates by occupational group. 

More crimes 

Rivero called the fact that crimes increased by almost 16.8% in 2022 “a disgrace”. “We are talking about 263,000 crimes in a year, with a significant increase in street fights or fights between minors, which ultimately create a significant sense of insecurity.” It also puts more pressure on officers, as they may witness terrible events during the workday that can trigger or exacerbate depression. 

Related post: Number of rapes in Spain increased by more than 53% since 2019 

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