Coping, stress and suicide ideation in the South African Police Service in the Northern Cape
Suicide is a complex phenomenon, which can be prevented if intensive and continuous research is being done to determine tendencies and to compile profiles of high-risk cases. Suicide prevention is currently a high priority in the South African Police Service (SAPS). In the Northern Cape various potential stressors, such as a high crime level, lack of resources and vast distances to travel are some of the challenges members of the police service face. Increased rates of post-traumatic stress, alcohol abuse, depression and suicides are found in research with police members. Research that was done in the SAPS shows that the number of suicide among police officers increased from 11 suicides per 10 000 during 1999 to 13 suicides per 10 000 during 2000. The numbers of suicides in the SAPS in the Northern Cape are of the highest of all the Provinces. Suicide ideation can be considered an early marker for more serious suicidal behaviour. However, there is a lack of empirical research systematically investigating suicide ideation and possible correlates thereof in the SAPS in the Northern Cape. This research investigated the relationship between suicide ideation, stress and coping within SAPS in the Northern Cape. The aim of this research was to determine the level of suicide ideation and possible correlates thereof. Further aims included predicting suicide ideation by meqs of stress and coping variables. The research method for this article consists out of a brief literature review and an empirical study. A cross sectional survey design was used. A random sample (n=274) as taken of members from police stations in the Northern Cape. The Adult Suicide Ideation Questionnaire (ASIQ), Police Stress Inventory (PSI), COPE Questionnaire and a biographical questionnaire were administered. Descriptive and inferential statistics were used to analyse the data. Results indicated that 3.28 % of the sample showed serious levels of suicide ideation. It was shown that previous suicide attempts, medical status, passive coping, problem-focussed coping, police stressors and job demands could be used to predict suicide ideation.