Police Suicide: A Failure to Look for the Helpers

Gabriel Nathan
11 min readFeb 19, 2024
You’ll hear lots on the news about cops getting killed in the line of duty, but not much about them killing themselves, though it’s arguably a much bigger problem. (Caruth Police Institute)

It’s interesting to me that law enforcement has been keeping, collecting, and analyzing data on police officers assaulted or killed in action since 1937, (this process was more formalized and more highly detailed by 1972) but they have only just begun (it seems) showing particular interest in information relating to officers who harm or kill civilians (data collection by the FBI starting in 2019 — oh, and submitting data is [of course] voluntary).

It’s also very telling to me (and, in many ways, not surprising at all) as a suicide awareness advocate with a keen interest in law enforcement to know that it wasn’t until January 1, 2022, that the FBI began an initiative called the Law Enforcement Suicide Data Collection (LESDC), which is part of the Uniform Crime Reporting Program (odd, since suicide isn’t a crime — but, okay). The FBI was compelled, apparently, to begin this program only because of legislation (S.2746; the Law Enforcement Suicide Data Collection Act). Here’s the thing in its entirety:

[116th Congress Public Law 143]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]



[[Page 134 STAT. 644]]

Public Law 116-143
116th Congress

An Act



To require the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation to
provide information on suicide rates in law enforcement, and for other
purposes. <<NOTE: June 16, 2020 - [S. 2746]>>

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the
United States of America in Congress assembled, <<NOTE: Law Enforcement
Suicide Data Collection Act.>>
SECTION 1. <<NOTE: 34 USC 10101 note.>> SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the ``Law Enforcement Suicide Data
Collection Act''.
SEC. 2. <<NOTE: 34 USC 50701.>> INFORMATION ON SUICIDE IN LAW
ENFORCEMENT.

(a) <<NOTE: Deadline.>> Establishment.--Not later than 1 year after
the date of enactment of this Act, the Attorney General, acting through
the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, shall establish,
for the purpose of preventing future law enforcement suicides and
promoting understanding of suicide in law enforcement, the Law
Enforcement Officers Suicide Data Collection Program, under which law
enforcement agencies may submit to the Director information on suicides
and attempted suicides within such law enforcement…

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Gabriel Nathan

Gabe is Editor in Chief of OC87 Recovery Diaries, a mental health publication. He is a suicide awareness advocate and is attracted to toxic car relationships.