Year of Publication



Public Health

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (M.P.H.)

Committee Chair

Steven Browning, PhD, MSPH

Committee Member

Glyn Caldwell, MD, PhD

Committee Member

Sabrina Brown, DrPH



The purpose of this study was to evaluate firearm-related suicides among law enforcement members and identify potential differences between decedents and firearm legislation grades from National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) funded states


Descriptive and regression analyses were conducted using suicide data from 820 decedents who worked within law enforcement at the time of death. Data were collected over a ten-year period (2003-2013) from the NVDRS. Multivariable logistic regression and Pearson’s chi-square were used to identify if differences existed among firearm-related suicides and other means using variables such as age, marital status, occupation, mental health, and firearm legislation scores. Backwards elimination was used to find the best fitting model.


Due to missing data among the sample, 40 cases were removed, yielding a final sample size of 820. Of reported suicides, 678 (83%) died by firearm while 142 (17%) used other means. Individuals aged 66 and older had more than 2.5 times the odds of dying by suicide with a firearm compared to those aged 36-50. Occupation, while not statistically significant, showed a protective effect among corrections officers and those listed as “other” compared to members in leadership positions. Mental health status displayed a protective effect among law enforcement suicides. Analysis of the key variable of interest, firearm legislation scores, showed a statistical association between firearm suicides and the lowest firearm legislation score (OR=1.83, p-value<0.05).


No statistically significant correlation was identified between occupation and firearm-related suicides. Findings indicate that states with the lowest scores on firearm legislation increased the odds of firearm suicides versus use of other methods. Recommendations include: (1) review of current regulations among states with low firearm regulations to prevent firearm access, (2) increase and improve mental health services provided to law enforcement members, and (3) regulate reporting mechanisms for NVDRS data entry.

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