Please, don't be afraid to talk to someone if you ever start feeling like things in life are spinning out of control. Times have changed and we much better understanding of depression and its treatment. there is no rerason to hide in the dark any longer.
My friend, Andy O'Hara is involved with Badge of Life. A great organization--
September 10, 2014
10-43: Be Advised...
with Doug Wyllie, PoliceOne Editor in Chief
Have you seen a fellow officer who suddenly begins taking unnecessary risks on and off duty? Have you observed a shift in attitude and/or demeanor, like a change from motivated and professional to apathetic and flippant? Perhaps a cop you know has begun to show increased signs of aggressiveness and/or chronic anger.
Have you witnessed a colleague suddenly increase alcohol consumption and/or have a loss in interest in recreational things the officer previously liked to do?
Have you heard a cop on your PD suddenly begin talking about death, dying, or suicide? Perhaps an officer in your ranks made statements of hopelessness like:
• “None of this really matters anyway.”
• “I don’t even know why we try out here.”
• “We can’t really do anything anyway.”
• “This is a losing battle and I’m tired of it.”
Have you observed any of the above in the person you see in the mirror every day before your shift?
If so, you may have an opportunity to save a life (maybe even your own), because those are among the behaviors commonly seen in an individual contemplating suicide.
More cops commit suicide than are feloniously killed in the line of duty — depending on whose data you site, somewhere between 125 and 150 officers reportedly kill themselves annually. Even one officer taking his or her own life is too many.
Wednesday, September 10, 2014 is World Suicide Prevention Day. Let’s use this day as the starting point in changing police culture, and preventing police suicide. As PoliceOne Columnist Larry Miller wrote in this article, “There has to be a convenient and non-stigmatized system for referring distressed officers for psychological help, and this must be framed in health-maintenance context, not as a disciplinary procedure.”
Emotional survival is just as critical as physical survival, and yet it is all too frequently insufficiently addressed — and in worst case scenarios, mental health issues are ignored altogether, both by the affected officer and the command staff in charge of their wellbeing.
As was stated in the IACP report Breaking the Silence on Law Enforcement Suicides, “From body armor to firearms training and on-site gyms and fitness programs, there are numerous measures in place to ensure an officer’s physical safety. But what is the profession doing to protect and support the mental health of officers? Tragically, many agencies lack the resources and the critical guidance to improve and protect their officers/ mental health and wellness.”
Among the many resources offered by IACP on this matter, a good place to start is with their publication entitled Developing a Law Enforcement Suicide Prevention Campaign Using Public Health Principles.
Whether you’re a beat cop or among the command staff of your agency, ensure you’re able to recognize the signs of potentially suicidal behavior, both in yourself and in fellow officers, and that you feel confident enough to take the appropriate steps to help stop a potentially devastating downward spiral.
The American Association of Suicidology has created a mnemonic to help you recognize the warning signs that someone may be contemplating suicide. The mnemonic is “IS PATH WARM” and I’ve pasted it below:
S Substance Abuse
M Mood Changes
Check out the excellent video — entitled Breaking the Silence: Preventing Suicide in Law Enforcement — embedded below. At the end of it there are numerous resources listed, and to make it easier for you to access them I’m put a number of links to those and other resources here.
• Safe Call Now
• Serve & Protect
• Badge of Life
• Code 9 Officer Needs Assistance Documentary
• National Police Suicide Foundation
• National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
• The Pain Behind the Badge
• DOJ Report on Suicide and Law Enforcement
PoliceOne Contributor Olivia Johnson — the Illinois State Representative and Board Member for the National P.O.L.I.C.E. Suicide Foundation and founder of the Blue Wall Institute http://www.bw-institute.com/ — summed it up by noting that suicide does not end the pain. It just transfers it to others.
“Many individuals contemplating suicide may see the act as a way out or as a 'solution' to a problem. This could not be farther from the truth. A death by suicide leaves so many unanswered questions, so many pointing fingers with blame and guilt, and it can even open the door for others to contemplate the act themselves.
“No matter what you are struggling with or trying to deal with, you are not alone. What I can tell you is that choosing to end one's life does not allow for the possibility to ever find happiness. It never allows for the thought of a bright future. It may be difficult to see brighter days ahead, but they are there and there are people ready and willing right now to help you through the darkness and to walk with you back into the light. Please reach out today because someone is counting on you tomorrow,” Johnson said.