Coping, stress and suicide ideation in the South African Police Service in Kwazulu-Natal
Suicide in the South African Police Service is a reality. The inability to cope effectively with stressful events in a working environment could lead to chronic stress, burnout and even suicide. The purpose of this research was to establish the current level of suicide ideation in police officials in the KwaZulu-Natal Province. Secondly, the purpose was to determine the relationship between coping and stress, and thirdly, whether these factors could he used to predict suicide ideation of police officials in the Kwazulu-Natal Province. A cross-sectional survey design was used to achieve the research objectives. The study population consisted of 272 uniformed police officials in the KwaZulu-Natal Province. The following measuring battery was used: a biographical questionnaire, the Adult Suicide Ideation Questionnaire, COPE Questionnaire, and the Police Stress Inventory. Descriptive statistics (e.g. standard deviations, means, skewness and kurtosis) and inferential statistics were used to analyse the data. Cronbach alpha coefficients, inter-item correlation coefficients and confirmatory factor analysis were used to assess the reliability and validity of the measuring battery. Discriminant analysis was used to determine which variables could be used to predict suicide ideation. The results indicated that 9 (3,30%) of the uniformed police officials have significant suicide ideation levels and that 11 (4,15%) police officials in the KwaZulu-Natal Province have attempted suicide in the past. No difference was found between the suicide ideation of males and females. A positive correlation between suicide ideation, police-specific stressors, as well as problem-focused coping, passive coping and social support was found. The results also indicated correlations between suicide ideation, medical condition and alcohol abuse, where stress because of lack of resources was identified as the primary stressor that caused alcohol abuse. The results also indicate that stress caused by job demands and lack of resources as well as police-specific stressors, problem-focused coping, passive coping and social support could be used to classify police officials into groups of high and low suicide ideation. Recommendations with regard to the improvement of the South African Police Service, as well as for future research were made.