More Attention to Avoid Suicide by Police Officers

Minister Opstelten of Security and Justice will invest in additional care and attention to avoid and deal with suicide committed by police officers. The Minister will, for example, introduce an accessible service where police officers who are in psychosocial distress can turn to 24 hours a day. In addition, the current action programme to increase the physical and mental ability of police officers to defend themselves will be geared more to the prevention of suicide. The registration of suicide will also be improved, and for each suicide or suicide attempt, the authorities will try to find the cause of this incident. Minister Opstelten wrote this in a response to the report Suicide by Police Officers: Survey of suicide by police officers in the Netherlands (Politiesuïcide, inventarisatie van zelfdoding door ambtenaren van politie in Nederland), which he presented to the Lower House of Parliament today.

The study, which had been conducted by VU University Amsterdam and Regioplan Policy Research on the instructions of the Policy Academy, revealed that until now the Dutch police has not pursued a specific policy on how to avoid and deal with suicide. In the report, the researchers gave an indication of the scope of the problem, but concluded at the same time that the registration of suicide by police officers is inadequate. Based on the figures from the police registrations, the researchers calculated a suicide rate of 10.5 per 100,000 police officers. This is slightly higher than the average rate in the Netherlands of 9.2 per 100,000 members of the general population. The rates deviated from findings abroad, though. Comparative international studies showed that the suicide rate among police officers in other countries is approximately three times higher than average. The researchers therefore argued for improved registration of suicide by police officers.

Minister Opstelten wrote in his response that he, as an employer, will do everything possible to reduce suicide among police officers. Following on from the Ministry of Defence, he will introduce a physical and digital 24-hour desk for police officers who are in psychosocial distress. This accessible service is also intended for family members, friends, and colleagues who are concerned about them. The desk will cooperate closely with the welfare section and will take immediate action after each report. Recognising signals that point to a diminished mental resilience is part of the action programme to increase emotional and mental resilience. This programme will be geared more to suicide. Furthermore, in response to the findings of the researchers the Minister has determined to improve the registration of suicide among police officers. In consultation with CZ insurance company and the General Pension Fund for Public Employees (ABP), a sound registration system is currently being developed.