Is Our Police Culture Causing Suicides?

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

My Journey by Julie Zielinski

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 new edition 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.

It is essential that… Continue reading

New Training Guide to Elevate Suicide Prevention Efforts within the National Law Enforcement Community

SuicidePrevDisGuideCoverNational Partnership Launches Police Suicide Prevention Facilitation Guide

At its highest levels, the national law enforcement community acknowledges suicide prevention as a health and safety priority. In 2012 there were 126 documented suicides of police officers (versus 49 killed by gunfire in the line of duty). In 2013 the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) held a forum called “Breaking the Silence: A National Symposium on Law Enforcement Office Suicide and Mental Health,” and in 2014 the IACP helped develop a video in partnership with the Carson J Spencer Foundation, the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, and the American Association of Suicidology entitled Breaking the Silence: Suicide Prevention in Law Enforcement (access video here: https://youtu.be/fBJbo7mnnBs). In recognition of Suicide Prevention Month, and as part of an expanded collaborative effort, the partnership is releasing a video facilitation training guide for law enforcement agencies. The guide can be downloaded as a free PDF here:
http://carsonjspencer.org/files/9214/4078/2987/20150817_LE_Video_Guide.pdf

As a law enforcement officer for 30 plus years, the last eight as chief, I recognize the value of sustained, comprehensive and coordinated suicide prevention efforts for… law enforcement agencies. These tools can provide departments with an important first step in opening discussions around the sensitive issue of suicide and mental health,” said Kenosha Police Chief John Morrissey, member of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention’s Workplace Task Force. Continue reading

PTSD Can Attack Years Later by Allen Kates

Jonathan-FigueroaPTSD Can Attack Years Later
Even With No Previous Symptoms

EDITORS NOTE: This article has been graciously provided by Allen R. Kates, BCECR, MFAW the Author of CopShock, Second Edition: Surviving Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

“I can’t eat, I can’t sleep, I can’t think,
I feel sick. I can’t do this anymore.”

Can you develop Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) months or even years after a traumatic event like 9/11? Without showing any previous symptoms?

There are studies of World War II veterans and victims of motor vehicle accidents that say Yes.

This phenomenon is called “delayed onset PTSD,” according to the therapist’s diagnostic bible known as the DSM-IV-TR. It states that symptoms first appear at least six months after the traumatic event. That could mean months or even years later.

Yet some mental health professionals argue that the individual must have had symptoms early on, but didn’t recognize them. They also suggest that the PTSD sufferer delayed getting help for months or years, not that the PTSD itself was delayed.

Nevertheless, many law enforcement officers with no obvious previous symptoms do develop PTSD months or even years after a traumatic event.

As an example of delayed onset PTSD, here is the story of a police officer that developed the disorder five years after 9/11 and what he did about it… Continue reading

Law Enforcement Officer Fatigue is a Critical Issue

EDITORS NOTE: The following article was brought to us by David Blake M.Sc and Edward Cumella PhD. about their research into law enforcement fatigue in relation to deadly force encounters. This subject if of vital importance to law enforcement officers and agencies around the world. We hope that you will engage in the conversation and bring the discussion back to your agencies.

Officer Fatigue and Officer Involved Shootings (OIS) – A deadly combination for error!

By: David Blake M.Sc and Edward Cumella PhD.

Law enforcement data indicate that officers frequently suffer from high levels of fatigue due to lack of sleep, unusual shift schedules, and long hours awake. Research confirms that fatigue impairs a person’s mental functioning, especially in areas such as decision making, reaction time, and memory. Yet little study has directly investigated fatigue’s impacts on officers’ performance in police specific tasks, particularly in deadly force situations.

A first of its kind study

A recent study conducted by me; David Blake, MSc., a retired police officer, and Edward Cumella, PhD, a professor of psychology at Kaplan University, has finally addressed this issue. Our ground breaking research examined fatigue’s effects on 53 officers’ decision making and reaction times when the officers were faced with deadly force situations. Officers completed online tasks both before and after each of their shifts, for one week. Records included a history of their sleep patterns, total hours slept, total hours awake, shifts worked, and sleep quality. Officers were then engaged in a series of simulated shoot/don’t shoot scenarios using pictures of potential targets, targets that use of force experts had previously classified as warranting either a shoot or don’t shoot response, or as ambiguous.

Dr. Cumella and I found that many fatigue measures correlated strongly with officers’ impaired decision making and slowed reaction times within the deadly force situations. In particular, poor sleep quality, greater total time awake, more days worked, and working night or swing shifts all decreased the accuracy of officers’ decisions to shoot or… Continue reading

Prevent Police Suicides

This week is National Suicide Prevention Week in the U.S. and it’s time we in law enforcement take a stand against police officer suicides.

Do you have a suicide prevention program in your agency?

Well, you no longer have an excuse for not having a program. With this new video produced by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), the Working Minds Program and the Carson J Spencer Foundation, and our CopsAlive.com roll call discussion guide you can create a ready made program the moment you finish reading this article.

Create your own police suicide prevention training program in just 3 Easy Steps.
1. Download the video or show it to your roll call or staff group from your laptop.
2. Pair it with our CopsAlive.com 10 Minute Roll Call Discussion Guide “Law Enforcement Suicide Prevention – Take Charge”
3. Establish your plan for any interventions and post the Safe Call Now crisis hotline for first responders phone number 1–206–459–3020 around your agency.

This video “Breaking the Silence: Suicide Prevention in Law Enforcement” was posted on YouTube by Dr. Sally Spencer-Thomas the Executive Director of the Carson J Spencer Foundation through their work with the Working Minds suicide prevention organization, the Denver PD and Kenosha PD.

You can access the above video on YouTube here: http://youtu.be/u-mDvJIU9RI

Download our 10 minute roll call discussion guide on law enforcement suicide prevention entitled: “Law Enforcement Suicide Prevention – Take Charge” by CLICKING HERE.

All training about suicide prevention should… Continue reading

New Information on Police Suicide

breakingthesilencecoverNew IACP Program on Police Officer Suicide

The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) has just released a new resource for law enforcement on police officer suicide, with information and resources on prevention and response to the problem of law enforcement officer suicide. The resources on their website are from their symposium entitled: “Breaking the Silence: A National Symposium on Law Enforcement Officer Suicide and Mental Health” and their website is loaded with lots of downloadable and reproducible materials.

According to the IACP website: “To address the mental health stigma within law enforcement as well as the critical issue of law enforcement suicide, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, in partnership with the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, U.S. Department of Justice (COPS) hosted Breaking the Silence: A National Symposium on Law Enforcement Officer Suicide and Mental Health in July 2013. The participants at the symposium, which included the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, law enforcement and mental health professionals, worked together to develop a national strategy to address officer mental health wellness and suicide prevention”.

You can find their information… Continue reading

Breaking the Silence of Police Suicide

Breaking the Silence of Police Suicide
by Trish Buchanan

Please take five minutes of your time to consider, and then do something to stop police officer suicides in 5 easy steps.

1. Start with this short 4 minute video that was created by Trish Buchanan who is the widow of East Hartford Connecticut Police Officer Paul S. Buchanan, a dedicated police officer for almost 24 years and, who sadly took his own life in his police department March 12, 2013.  Please take 4 minutes to watch this video.

2. Then CLICK HERE to download our free CopsAlive.com roll-call discussion guide… Continue reading

Code 9 Officer Needs Assistance Meets Their Fund Raising Goal

Thank you to all of our readers and congratulations to Deborah Louise Ortiz and everyone involved in the “Code 9 Officer Needs Assistance” film project. The producers have reached their $25,000 fund raising goal five days early. This will allow them to move forward with the completion of the film.

The film is being produced to help law enforcement officers survive the rigors of their very stressful careers. This powerful documentary explores the darker side… Continue reading

Code 9 Officer Needs Assistance

This is just the trailer for “Code 9 Officer Needs Assistance” a new film being produced to help law enforcement officers survive the rigors of their very stressful careers. This powerful documentary explores the darker side of law enforcement as it documents the stories of police officers and their families who are now suffering the mental anguish of the careers they chose, which has led some to suicide.

You can find the above trailer or make a donation to help them finish the film by CLICKING HERE Note: Their Kickstarter campaign is an ALL OR NOTHING campaign and what that means is if they do not reach their goal of raising $25,000 dollars by March 3rd then they will not receive any of the money pledged. And that any one who makes a pledge will not be charged for their pledge unless they meet their fundraising goal. If they don’t reach their goal, then you will never be charged

One of the film’s producers, Deborah Louise Ortiz, is the wife of a retired state trooper. When her husband retired from his 22 year law enforcement career all of their dreams of how his retirement would and should be turned into nightmares. Little did they know that his years on the job would transform into the demons he still battles today. Deborah says that she did not understand what was happening to him and watching his downward spiral was heart wrenching and it has torn their family apart. After much pain and family trauma they now know that he suffers from job related Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

His story has inspired… Continue reading