Concerns over mental health of police officers rise as 4 die by suicide in January

Four police officers have died by suicide so far this year, raising concerns over the mental well-being of members of the Turkish police force, the Gazete Duvar news website reported

Only yesterday, policeman Ilker Tarik killed his family and himself in western Sakarya province. Police unions have been demanding a thorough investigation into the deaths, saying working conditions, workplace bullying and pressure were just a few reasons why suicide was becoming worryingly commonplace among the police. 

Faruk Sezer, the chairman of a police union, said 105 police suicides had been recorded in 2022, and while the number had decreased the following year, it was still common. “We have been calling for a thorough investigation over the years, but our calls have fallen on deaf ears,” he said. “Unfortunately, the police force is not a transparent organization, and authorities have not made any satisfactory explanation as to why so many police officers are taking their own lives.”

According to Sezer, the only explanations given were that the victims had psychological, financial or family problems. 

“Everyone in Turkey has financial problems [in the current economic crisis], or they have some kind of problem with their families. We need a real investigation into each case to determine the factors that led up to the death of these men. If the police force knew they had psychological problems, why were they allowed to carry a gun? Why were they not sent for psychological treatment?” 

On the first day of January, a police officer in Ankara died by suicide, but authorities issued no statement on the incident. A week later, Efe Önsel from the counterterrorism division in Mersin province killed himself. He is survived by a 1-year-old son. A day later, on January 9, Ömer Kapsal died by suicide in Afyon province. In a final letter to his daughter, Kapsal mentioned workplace bullying. 

According to unions, the police force has the highest number of suicides in comparison to other occupations. 

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