Coping, stress and suicide ideation in the South African Police Service in Limpopo Province
Van der Merwe, Cornelius Gerhardus
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If the way employees die is a direct cause of their working environment, the employer has a certain responsibility to address or prevent these contributing conditions in the environment. Research reports indicate that police officers have higher suicide rates compared to the rates of the general population. Increasing suicide rates for police officers in recent years have been reported for the United States and Australia. Very limited research data for this phenomenon, especially within the South African Police Service, Limpopo Province was found. Previous research on suicide ideation focused on social and individual factors. A research project was launched to determine the relationship between certain demographic variables, coping strategies and stress factors which can be linked to suicide. Research was conducted by means of a cross-sectional survey design. A random, stratified sample (n=204) of uniformed police members was taken from police stations in the province. The Adult Suicide Ideation Questionnaire, the Police Stress Inventory, the Coping Orientations to the Problems Experienced Questionnaire and a biographical questionnaire were administered. Results of a stepwise discriminant analysis showed that the combination of race, the use of seeking emotional support as coping strategy and size of police stations can predict 75% of high suicide ideation cases and 25% of low ideation cases. It was found that 5,88% of the police officials had significant suicide ideation levels. Recommendations for future research were made.