Today, September 26, is National Law Enforcement Suicide Prevention Day. There have already been over 100 suicides among law enforcement officers in the United States this year. The rate of suicide among police officers is nearly twice that of the general population.

Research shows “law enforcement personnel are 54% more likely to die of suicide than all decedents with a usual occupation.”

This is a problem that affects not just individual officers and their families, but also the agencies they work for and the communities they serve. 

So why are police officers at such a high risk for suicide? More importantly, what can be done to prevent law enforcement suicide? Some scientists believe that psychedelic medicines like MDMA, psilocybin, and other entheogens could hold the key to reducing suicide rates among law enforcement officers.

Why Are Police Officers at Risk for Suicide?

Several factors contribute to the high rate of suicide among police officers. The job is stressful and often dangerous.

Research on police officer suicide found that “police officers witness 188 ‘critical incidents’ during their careers.”

This exposure to trauma can lead to several forms of mental illness, like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Depression and PTSD rates among police officers are “as much as 5 times higher than the rates within the civilian population.”

A survey of over 400 police officers reported 3 key findings;

  1. 12% had a lifetime mental health diagnosis
  2. 26% reported current symptoms of mental illness
  3. 17% sought mental health care services in the past 12 months

Officers also have easy access to firearms and often work long hours with little time for a personal life. All of these factors can make it difficult for police officers to cope with the stresses of the job, and some may turn to alcohol or drugs as a way to numb the pain.

In addition, police officers are often reluctant to seek help for mental health problems due to the stigma attached to mental illness. This can make it even harder to get the help they need when struggling. As a result, many police officers suffer in silence until it’s too late.

How Psychedelics Could Help Prevent Law Enforcement Suicide 

Some researchers believe that psychedelics could be used to treat PTSD and other mental health conditions that lead to suicide. Even the FDA is considering MDMA and psilocybin to be breakthrough therapies. MDMA has been shown to be an effective treatment for PTSD, and psilocybin has been shown to help treat depression. These substances could potentially help reduce suicide rates by treating the underlying mental health conditions that often lead to suicide.

Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy

In addition, psychedelics could be used in group therapy sessions for police officers who have experienced traumatic events on the job. These substances could create an environment where officers feel safe enough to share their experiences and receive support from their peers. Group therapy is an effective treatment for PTSD, and psychedelic-assisted therapy could potentially make it even more effective. 

Police officers have a very tough job, and data proves they are at a higher risk for suicide than the general population. While many factors contribute to this problem, psychedelics are emerging as a potential solution. Continued research into psychedelic medicines like MDMA, psilocybin, and other entheogens could hold the key to reducing suicide rates among law enforcement officers. It’s important to raise awareness about this issue so we can find better ways to help those who risk their lives in the line of duty every day.

If you or someone you know is in law enforcement and seeking resources, contact Blue HELP at bluehelp.org. If you are in an emergency, contact the COPLINE at 1-800-267-5463 to immediately speak to a retired officer for peer support, or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.