n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - The effectiveness of set psychometric selection criteria to reject applicants with high levels of suicide ideation from enlistment in the South African Police Service

Volume 21, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1012-8093



High suicide rates among law enforcement officers are common. This is also the case in the South African Police Service (SAPS), where the suicide rate is more than double that of the reported national rate. The use of psychometric tests prior to enlistment may reduce the risk of suicide at a later stage. However, the psychometric battery presently used by the SAPS does not include any specific measures of suicide ideation, an early warning sign of suicidiality. The aim of this research was to assess the effectiveness of the present psychometric battery in eliminating candidates with high levels of suicide ideation from enlisting. This was done by comparing the suicide ideation scores of a group of applicants who met the psychometric selection criteria (=2 498) with a group that did not meet the criteria (=2 675). Reynolds' Adult Suicide Ideation Questionnaire (ASIQ) was adapted and administered to the same groups to assess the level of suicide ideation. The results of both t-tests (=18.75; &lt;0.001; =0.344) and the chi-square test (_2=149; <0.001) suggest the rejection of the null hypothesis, and show that the present test battery is effective in reducing the enlistment of suicidal applicants. The adapted suicide ideation test shows positive psychometric results, with an acceptable Cronbach alpha of 0.82 and an inter-item correlation of 0.34. Other data on the psychometric characteristics of the adapted ASIQ and some general recommendations are reported.

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