Advocates Seek More Recognition Of Police “On Duty” Suicides


A Massachusetts retirement board declared the death by suicide of State Police Capt. Paul McCarthy accidental, reflecting “a national shift toward recognizing the physical and emotional toll of police work,” says the Boston Globe. Badge of Life, an advocacy group for mental health training for law enforcement officers, have established a working definition of line-of-duty suicide: “any police officer suicide in which work-related psychological trauma is a precipitant or significant contributor to the act of suicide.”

A study in the International Journal of Emergency Mental Health says that at least 141 U.S. police officers committed suicide in 2008, more than three times the number killed in homicides and twice the number who died in on-the-job accidents. In Masssachusetts, McCarthy’s widow, Janice, is fighting legislatively and administratively to get her husband’s death declared as “line of duty.” A retirement board member is dubious, saying, “The line-of-duty designation is sacred territory.”

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