It is often assumed that separated or retired officers are at increased risk for suicide. The goal of this study was to compare police suicide rates between currently working and separated/retired officers. A 55-year retrospective mortality police cohort was utilized consisting of 3,228 officers who worked between January 1, 1950 and December 31, 2005. Poisson regression and survival analysis were used for comparisons. Adjusted for age and years of service, suicide rates were 8.4 (95% CI = 3.8-18.7) times higher in working officers vs. separated/retired officers (110.5 vs. 13.1 per 100,000 person-years respectively). Survival time to suicide was significantly lower (p<0.0001) for current working officers, suggesting suicide in a significantly shorter time span. Previous research indicates that the majority of suicides in working officers occur in the five years just prior to retirement eligibility, suggesting a period of decision anxiety. Results suggest a higher risk of suicide among working compared to separated/retired officers. However, the need for suicide prevention efforts remains important among both active and retired police officers.
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