Blunt, Cortez Masto, Hawley, Coons introduce new bill to help reduce police officer suicides

Sen. Hawley speaks on police suicide prevention

WASHINGTON, D.C. (KFVS) - U.S. Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Josh Hawley (R-MO), and Chris Coons (D-DE) introduced a bill this week to track law enforcement suicides.

The Law Enforcement Suicide Data Collection Act would require the FBI to collect voluntary, anonymous data on police suicides and attempted suicides from local, state and federal law enforcement agencies.

With this data, politicians will be able to make informed policy solutions, in order to decrease law enforcement suicides.

“Law enforcement officers face stressful and dangerous situations every day,” said Blunt. “That can take a tremendous toll on their mental health and, in too many cases, lead them to take their own lives. The data collected by the FBI will play a vital role in developing policies to help prevent future tragedies. As a mental health advocate and co-chair of the Senate Law Enforcement Caucus, I hope my colleagues will join us in this effort to better support the brave men and women who keep our communities safe.”

Information collected and maintained by the FBI will not include any personally identifiable information.

Participating law enforcement agencies will report information on suicides within their agency to the FBI, including:

  • Circumstances and events that occurred before each suicide or attempted suicide;
  • Location of each suicide or attempted suicide;
  • Demographic information of each law enforcement officer who dies by suicide or attempts suicide;
  • Occupational category for each law enforcement officer who dies by suicide or attempts suicide; and
  • Method used in each suicide or attempted suicide.

Catherine Cortez Masto stated:

“America’s law enforcement officers risk their own lives to protect others, and in the process they see some of the most traumatic scenes imaginable. These burdens can haunt them and lead to PTSD, depression, and other mental health issues that put them at greater risk for suicidal thoughts. They deserve all the support we can give them, and the data this bill will make available is a crucial part of that support. I’ll keep fighting in the United States Senate to make sure that our first responders get the critical assistance they need to do their jobs protecting the public.”

This program would serve as the principal data collection tool on suicides and attempted suicides within law enforcement across the country. By providing accurate and detailed information on these suicides and attempted suicides, more effective prevention programs could be implemented to save lives.

“Every day law enforcement officers walk into the line of fire to protect our communities,” said Hawley. “But the trauma they experience can take a heavy toll on those brave men and women who keep us safe. This bill takes positive steps toward getting our men and women in blue the support they deserve in order to heal and recover.”

2018 was the third straight year in which police suicides outnumbered line-of-duty deaths. Law enforcement agencies across the country lost at least 167 officers to suicide in 2018. Currently, there is no comprehensive government effort to track suicides and attempted suicides in law enforcement like there is for line-of-duty deaths.

“Tragically, according to the Department of Justice, more police officers have died by suicide recently than were fatally shot in the line of duty. We must do more to protect the officers who put their lives on the line every day to keep our communities safe, and that includes providing them with the mental health care they deserve. I’m proud to work with a bipartisan group of colleagues to introduce the Law Enforcement Suicide Data Collection Act here in the Senate. This bill will provide valuable data that can help inform and target a suicide-prevention initiative within the law enforcement community.”
Chris Coons

U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) also cosponsored the bill.

Companion legislation was introduced in the House by Representatives Mike Quigley (D-IL), Greg Steube (R-FL.) and Madeleine Dean (D-PA).

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