Can Police Prevent Suicides?

Police officers are frequently the first responders to individuals in crisis, but generally receive little training for this role.  An article recently published in the journal Crisis evaluates training in suicide awareness and prevention for frontline rail police in the UK. A research study investigated the impact of training on officers’ suicide prevention attitudes, confidence, and knowledge using fifty-three participants who completed a brief questionnaire before and after undertaking training. In addition, two focus groups were conducted with 10 officers to explore in greater depth their views and experiences of the training program and the perceived impact on practice. Results showed that baseline levels of suicide prevention attitudes, confidence, and knowledge were mixed but mostly positive and improved significantly after training. Such improvements were seemingly maintained over time, but there was insufficient power to test this statistically. Feedback on the course was generally excellent, notwithstanding some criticisms and suggestions for improvement. The researchers conclude that training in suicide prevention appears to have been well received and to have had a beneficial impact on officers’ attitudes, confidence, and knowledge. Further research is needed to assess its longer-term effects on police attitudes, skills, and interactions with suicidal individuals, and to establish its relative effectiveness in the context of multilevel interventions.

For the abstract


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