It’s National Suicide Prevention Week again (September 9th – 15th, 2018) in the United States which is a week-long campaign to inform and engage health professionals and the general public about suicide prevention and warning signs of suicide.
I lost one of my law enforcement friends to suicide in 2007 and that’s what prompted me to start CopsAlive.com.
In my opinion, law enforcement suicide is a symptom of what ails our profession, and it should be an priority issue to resolve — but it hasn’t been.
This year, I thought I would follow suit with some other enlightened thinkers on this issue and challenge you to think about how our law enforcement culture contributes to suicide, and how we can fix that… Continue reading
How do you handle that one guest that just will not leave? I recently heard a definition for what trauma is. Trauma was defined as: when you leave the scene, but the scene does not leave you. That definition resonated with me. How many calls did I leave that did not leave me?
I know we all have scenes and calls that have not left us. Some are years old. Some are obvious. The larger scenes and the obviously tragic calls stay with us. It is expected. In my department, certain calls are expected to cause trauma such as an officer involved shooting or a line of duty death.
When something like that happens, peer support is automatically activated and… Continue reading
The second as an article posted by the National Center for PTSD entitled Help Someone You Love on PTSD Awareness Day. (Today is National PTSD Awareness Day – see below for links and resources).
I’d like you to read both and then share your comments here about how we can better serve our brothers and sisters behind the badge.
We should not have to Suffer In Silence!
When I read the Diary of a Suicidal Cop, I am saddened, I am moved and I can readily identify with lots of the feelings, but that still doesn’t mean we can’t help those who need it most… Continue reading
Over the past 18 years it has been my privilege to design and provide training for law enforcement officers in Spiritual Survival. My training addresses a very specific aspect of the law enforcement experience: the spiritual dimension. Spiritual Survival training is, I believe, a crucial aspect of training to help officers successfully negotiate the challenges of a law enforcement career. The goal is to help officers recognize and acknowledge the noble idealism and integrity within the human spirit that brings them into the career. It is this human spirit that can keep them devoted to their law enforcement mission, with all its challenges, disappointments and difficulties. My aim is to help them identify the toxins that daily deplete and exhaust their spirit, equip them with tools to nourish and replenish their precious idealism and integrity, and renew their commitment to faithful performance of their law enforcement mission.
Often, when police chiefs hear that I offer training for “Spiritual Survival,” they reassure me that their agencies already have chaplaincy services, so their agencies don’t need the spiritual survival training I offer. That’s when I gently explain that the two support structures, chaplaincy and Spiritual Survival training, are not the same.
Chaplaincy services inspire strong reaction – avid advocates and suspicious detractors. A common story among law enforcement executives tells of a skilled, dedicated chaplain who intervened to save a cop in distress; others regale me with anecdotes of chaplains who overstepped their bounds and trespassed into the realm of proselytizing. But in all cases I unequivocally assure law enforcement executives that Spiritual Survival training is not equivalent to chaplaincy.
Indeed, chaplaincy and Spiritual Survival training both support officers and agencies, and ought to be complementary. But they each have profoundly different goals.
REACTIVE BENEFICIARY OR PROACTIVE PARTICIPANT
The greatest distinction between chaplaincy and Spiritual Survival training is this: Chaplaincy is reactive by its nature, whereas Spiritual Survival training is proactive. Even more significant is the fact that officers who receive chaplaincy services are… Continue reading
A just-released White Paper on Mental Health and Suicide among First Responders commissioned by the Ruderman Family Foundation examines mental illness among police officers and firefighters, who commit suicide at a higher rate, and have PTSD and depression as much as 5 times higher… Continue reading
Police Peer Support: Does it work? The Efficacy of Law Enforcement Peer Support
By: Police Psychologist Jack A. Digliani, PhD, EdD
EDITORS NOTE: This article was submitted by CopsAlive longtime contributor Dr. Jack Digliani and it is of particular importance because I believe he has created one of the first and certainly most thorough evaluations of Proactive Peer Support programs ever conducted. Jack is truly one of the world’s preeminent promoters of effective law enforcement peer support and how to properly train for it. READ this article, visit his website, and use his free materials that are available here on CopsAlive and also on his site. If you haven’t had Jack conduct a training program for your agency yet, you are truly missing the best!
Peer support teams within law enforcement agencies have existed for many years. Although many law enforcement officers and police psychologists have advocated for peer support programs, there has been surprising little research providing evidence for the efficacy of peer support.
To gather information about the use and outcome of agency peer support, the peer support experiences of employees of three northern Colorado law enforcement agencies, Fort Collins Police Services, Larimer County Sheriff’s Office, and Loveland Police Department, were assessed utilizing the Peer Support Team Utilization and Outcome Survey. The peer support teams of each agency are well established, similarly structured, and function under the oversight of a licensed mental health professional. Each member of the peer support teams was initially trained within the Police Peer Support Team Training program.
The applied methodology for Survey distribution and collection produced a return of 644 surveys. This represented approximately 77.9% of the survey-eligible population. Of the 644 surveys collected, 631 were returned completed (76.3% of the survey-eligible population).
EDITORS NOTE: Lori and Dave Barron have worked for years to promote family support within the Evansville Indiana Police Department (EPD) and they have always offered their assistance to other agencies and concerned family members as well. Don’t forget the effect a critical incident can have on law enforcement families and work to build a strong family support network before you need one! Here is Lori’s story:
I am the proud wife of Sergeant Dave Barron and admire my spouse and all other Law Enforcement Officers and their families. Dave has been on the Evansville Indiana Police Department (EPD) for 27 years and will be retiring March 2018 and it’s a little bitter sweet for me I must say. I want you all to know this life is not always easy but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Support each other, you are stronger and more resilient than you even realize.
July 4, 2003 started out like any other night as my husband went to work on third shift motor patrol. Around 2 am I was awakened by a call from Dave that he had just shot someone but he was ok. I had a million questions for him and he had… Continue reading
EDITORS NOTE: This time of year can be tough for cops and other emergency responders just like everyone in society. It’s hard to think about suicides, but maybe this is the best time for us to look after our health as well as that of our peers. Julie Zielinski is a Law Enforcement Survival Institute faculty member who lost her Sheriff’s Deputy son to a completed suicide. Julie now writes and teaches about suicide prevention for law enforcement professionals. As the newedition of her book Matt’s Last Call: Surviving Our Protectors is released she reflects upon her journey. Read to the end of the article to find our free CopsAlive suicide prevention resources that you can activate in your agency TODAY!
My Journey 2017
On June 1, 2005, my 27 year old son, Matthew Zielinski, took his life due to a failed relationship. At the time he was a Chelan County Sheriff Deputy in Washington State, who had achieved this dream job eleven months earlier. Obviously, it was devastating to my family and I but more about my journey later.
This tragic event has birthed in me a passion to learn everything I can about suicide prevention in law enforcement. Through research, attending conferences, and contact with experts in the field it appears that deaths by suicide in law enforcement are 2-3 times greater than line of duty deaths (LOD) nationwide. This is astounding yet little is being done by law enforcement agencies to spend more time with mental health issues including suicide prevention. In fact, cover-up is common.
When I talk about mental health and fitness, I’m talking about the cognitive functioning and fitness you need to thrive as a law enforcement professional or other emergency responder.
The other things you might think of as “mental health” are covered in the emotional and spiritual health categories of our overall plan for building Tactical Resilience™ and I will, or have, covered them in other articles (See Below).
For the purposes of our discussion here I want you to think about the cognitive functions that are critical to your performance in your capacity as a law enforcement professional or other emergency responder role.
To me mental strength comes from regular conditioning much like… Continue reading
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