Two police officers in France died of “suspected” suicides during the weekend, The Information and Communication Service of the National Police confirmed to France 24 on Monday, adding the investigations into the officers’ deaths are still ongoing and no final conclusions have been made on the causes of death. The 24 officers confirmed to have committed suicide do not include the two suspected of doing so this weekend, and all numbers come from the Directorate General of the National Police.
"A policeman kills himself every four days, it's too much," Denis Jacob from the French Democratic Confederation of Labor Union told The Local.
One officer, a 37-year-old woman who worked night shifts in the northwestern Paris suburb of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, was discovered dead from what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound Saturday evening, Le Parisien reported. Police found the woman’s body in her car in the town of Guainville by using GPS tracking in the officer’s phone.
The second officer, a 49-year-old man who worked in the town of Alès in the Occitanie region of southern France, was found dead Sunday one week after he had been reported missing, the regional newspaper Midi Libre reported.
"It's a massacre," Thomas Toussaint from the Unsa-Police union told The Local, adding that in 2018 it took until August to reach the same number of suicides already seen in 2019.
Police labor unions have spoken out about how increased terrorism, the influx of migrants and rioting have increased the demand for the nation’s police force.
"A new type of aggression appeared in recent years, clearly intended to cause physical harm to the police, even to kill," one of the directors of France's riot police, the CRS, told The Local in 2018.
In 2015, French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve launched a program to address the rising number of officers committing suicide by recruiting seven extra psychologists to the police departments with the most need. Locker systems were also installed at police stations so that officers could store their weapons after work, in theory, lessening the temptation to commit suicide at home with their issued pistols.
The 2015 program has received criticism for being ineffective in reducing the number of police suicides in the country. A 2018 investigation into police working conditions also revealed officers endure strenuous work schedules, dilapidated office spaces and outdated computer systems and equipment, The Local reported.
The number of officers committing suicide in France peaked in 2014 when 55 officers took their own lives. In 2008, 49 officers committed suicide. In 2005, 50 officers took their own lives, and, in 2000, 54 officer suicides were reported.
The highest year on record for police suicides in France is 1996, when a total of 70 officers killed themselves.