Editors Note: CopsAlive was created to prompt discussions within our profession about important issues like police officer suicide, and we invite you to share your thoughts and opinions in the Comment Box that is at the bottom of this article.
Today begins National Suicide Prevention Week in the U.S. which runs from Sunday through Saturday preceding World Suicide Prevention Day on Saturday September 10th.
No matter who’s statistics you consider on the issue of police suicide, police officer suicides are a major problem worldwide. We invite you to discuss this problem within your agency and we have provided a roll call discussion guide at the end of this article.
The International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP), in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Federation for Mental Health, is hosting World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10th, 2011. This year’s theme is “Changing the Legacy of Suicide,” and will focus on raising awareness that suicide is a major preventable cause of premature death on a global level. Governments need to develop policy frameworks for national suicide prevention strategies. At the local level, policy statements and research outcomes need to be… translated into prevention programs and activities in communities.
The International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) was founded in Vienna, Austria in 1960 as a working fellowship of researchers, clinicians, practitioners, volunteers and organizations of many kinds. IASP wishes to contribute to suicide prevention through the resources of its members and in collaboration with other major organizations in the field of prevention.
The World Health Organization (WHO) is a United Nations health agency founded in April 1948. Its primary objective is to help all people attain the highest possible level of health (physical, mental and social well-being). This organization carries out this objective through advocacy, education, research, medical and technological development as well as the implementation of health standards and norms.
The World Federation for Mental Health’s mission is to promote the highest possible level of mental health in all aspects (biological, medical, educational and social) for all people and nations. Their goals are to heighten public awareness, promote mental health, prevent mental disorders and improve the care and treatment of those with mental disorders.
Suicide as an International Problem
Suicide is an international problem and a major public health concern. Suicide claims approximately 1 million lives worldwide each year, resulting in one suicide every 40 seconds. There is an estimated 10 to 20 suicide attempts per each completed suicide, resulting in several million suicide attempts each year.
Statistics indicate that somewhere between 2-6 times more police officers and other law enforcement professionals kill themselves each year than are killed by the bad guys.
A quarter of female police officers and nearly as many male officers assigned to shift work had thought about taking their own lives, a study of police work patterns and stress headed by University at Buffalo researcher John M. Violanti, PhD.
Suicide and suicidal behavior affects individuals of all ages, genders, races and religions across the planet. Suicide affects more men than women in all countries but China.
Risk factors remain essentially the same from country to country. Mental illness, substance abuse, previous suicide attempts, hopelessness, access to lethal means, recent loss of loved ones, unemployment and vulnerability to self-harm are just a few examples of risk factors.
Protective factors are also the same in all corners of the world. High self-esteem, social connectedness, problem-solving skills, supportive family and friends are all examples of factors that buffer against suicide and suicidal behaviors.
World Suicide Prevention Week represents a call for action and involvement by all governments and organizations worldwide to contribute to the cause of suicide awareness and prevention through activities, events, conferences and campaigns in their country. By collaborating together in this endeavor, we can indeed save lives. CopsAlive.com echos this mandate with a call to action for all law enforcement agencies worldwide to take a stand against, and work to prevent law enforcement suicides.
HOTLINES FOR HELP
The two hotlines specifically for law enforcement professionals and other first responders in the United States are:
“SAFE CALL NOW” at (206) 459-3020 which is staffed by first responder volunteers many of whom are police officers.
And the Cop2Cop program run by the New Jersey Department of Human Services Division of Mental Health and UBHC University Behavioral Healthcare at 1-866-Cop-2Cop (1-866-267-2267)
The Suicide Prevention Resource Center also operates a hotline for anyone at:
We would welcome input from our international readers about issues and resources in your countries because this is an international problem.
Here are links to some of our CopsAlive articles about Police Suicide Prevention:
“Police Officers Need to Learn to Manage Stress Before it Ruins Their Lives and Careers” – A candid interview with Chris Prochut a former Commander for the Bolingbrook Illinois Police Department about his battle with excessive stress and thoughts of suicide.
“The Pain Behind the Badge” – An interview with Clarke Paris from the Las Vegas Metro Police Department about his documentary film, book and seminar on the issues surrounding police officer suicides.
CLICK HERE for a link to a PoliceOne.com article about Police Suicide Prevention.
At The Law Enforcement Survival Institute we train law enforcement officers to cope with stress and manage all the toxic effects and hidden dangers of a career in law enforcement. If you would like us to provide on-site training for your organization on Police Suicide Prevention and Tactical Wellness consider hosting our training program entitled “Armor Your Self™”. For more information CLICK HERE; or CLICK HERE to send us an email. We will help your agency create the kind of place that supports and protects officers so that they can do their jobs better, safer, longer and survive to tell their grand kids all about it.
National Police Suicide Foundation www.psf.org/
The foundation’s dedicated mission is to provide police suicide awareness and prevention training programs and support services that will meet the psychological, emotional, and spiritual needs of law enforcement, on every level, and their families.
The Safe Call Now Website http://www.safecallnow.org/
The Pain Behind The Badge Website: http://www.thepainbehindthebadge.com
Lisa Wimberger is our CopsAlive Contributing Writer on Stress Management.
You can visit her website at http://www.tpconsultinggroup.com
Link for a 2011 National Suicide Prevention Week: Media & Information Kit in PDF format
The Suicide Prevention Resource Center http://www.sprc.org/
International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) http://www.iasp.info/index.php
American Association of Suicidology http://www.suicidology.org/web/guest/about-aas/nspw
World Suicide Prevention Day on Saturday September 10th
IASP Link: http://www.iasp.info/wspd/index.php
WHO Link: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/events/annual/world_suicide_prevention_day/en/
World Health Organization (WHO) http://www.who.int/en/
WHO Suicide Prevention Page http://www.who.int/mental_health/prevention/en/
CopsAlive is written to prompt discussions within our profession about the issues we cover on this blog site. We invite you to share your opinions in the Comment Box that is at the bottom of this article.
CopsAlive.com was founded to provide information and strategies to help police officers successfully survive their careers. We help law enforcement officers and their agencies prepare for the risks that threaten their existence. We will help your agency create the kind of place that supports and protects officers so that they can do their jobs better, safer, longer and survive to tell their grand kids all about it.
We do this by Helping Law Enforcement professionals plan for happy, healthy and successful lives on the job and beyond. We think the best strategy is for each officer to create a tactical plan for their own life and career. We call this Tactical Wellness planning.
The Law Enforcement Survival Institute (LESI) works with individuals and organizations to help them create and sustain success in their lives and careers as law enforcement professionals. It is the primary goal of The Law Enforcement Survival Institute to become the preeminent source for training, resources and information about how to create and sustain a happy, healthy and successful life and career while providing superior law enforcement service to your community.
At The Law Enforcement Survival Institute we train law enforcement officers to cope with stress and manage all the toxic effects and hidden dangers of a career in law enforcement.
We provide stress management and Tactical Wellness for police officers and other law enforcement professionals.
CLICK HERE to read more about The Law Enforcement Survival Institute.
CLICK HERE if you would like to contact us to learn more about training for your organization.