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Police Suicide: Living Between the Lines (From Suicide and Law Enforcement, P 305-313, 2001, Donald C. Sheehan and Janet I. Warren, eds. -- See NCJ-193528)

NCJ Number
James D. Brink
Date Published
9 pages
This article presents a model called "living between the lines," which is one interpretation of the correlation between interpersonal stress and police officer suicide.
After reviewing the psychological, biological, and sociological theories of suicide, the author advises that there is no single explanation for police officer suicide. Current research on self-destructive behavior and suicide has resulted in a multidisciplinary approach, suggesting that the issue involves a complex interaction of psychological, biological, and sociological factors. John M. Violanti (1993) has suggested that police officers as a group tend not to cope well with psychological distress, as they often turn to maladaptive coping strategies, namely, "avoidance" (not acknowledging or discussing their problems) and "distancing" (shutting themselves off from sharing feelings with others). These coping mechanisms for dealing with stress have particularly devastating consequences for an officer's marriage and family life. The model called "living between the lines" is most concerned with the chronic stage of divorce, because at this stage a causal relationship may exist. "Living between the lines" provides an interpretation of the correlation between interpersonal stress and suicide. The relationship featured in the model is that of marriage, but the model can also be applied to other close relationships. The focus is on how police occupational stressors and subcultural values lead to stress and maladaptive coping strategies that undermine healthy spousal and family relationships, which compounds risk factors for suicide. Figures provide schematics for the model.