The French government yesterday opened a suicide prevention unit for police officers after a sharp rise in the number taking their own lives since the start of this year.
The move comes as prosecutors are investigating chants by some “yellow vest” anti-government protesters in recent weeks urging the police to “commit suicide,” which have prompted widespread public outrage.
Police unions say officers are under intense strain since the eruption of the protests last November, which have often degenerated into violent clashes between demonstrators and security forces.
So far this year 28 officers have killed themselves, up from a total of 35 for all of last year, according to interior ministry figures.
“We have to break the fear, break the shame, break the silence,” Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said as he opened the prevention unit’s offices in Paris.
He said officials would also evaluate practices and procedures in the police forces of other countries as well as in private companies.