EDITORS NOTE: Guest contributor Sean Peterson is a patrolman with the Taunton Police Department in Southeastern Massachusetts and a member of the regional Critical Incident Stress Management team. He is also the owner and performance director at Chaos Fitness.
I sat down to write this in the wake of New York City Police Department’s ninth suicide this year. The current Blue H.E.L.P. statistics stand at 131 suicides on the year, with four months to go. Protesters are literally begging police to commit suicide in Portland, Oregon. With what feels like everyone and everything against us, how do we rise above the darkness? Below I have outlined some thoughts and ideas surrounding mental and physical health we first responders can easily employ in such trying times.
A Physical and Mental Approach
“Combat” or “Square” Breathing
Here’s the simple process…
1. Intently breath in with strong focus- slowly counting 1, 2, 3, 4
2. hold that breath counting 1, 2, 3 ,4
3. slowly and consistently exhale that breath 1, 2, 3, 4
Simply put, combat/square breathing is an effective way to calm the nervous system. It is a very basic introduction to the world of mindfulness, creating space between ourselves and our reactions. It brings our focus to the present moment by concentrating our attention on our breathing, allowing us to slow things down for a while, so our bodies can catch up. Consider implementing this technique to offset the adrenaline spikes and stressors associated with hot calls, inter-department nonsense and the obstacles of everyday life. The beauty of this technique is… Continue reading
Recently, we were in Washington D.C. attending a banquet called Honoring the Service of Law Enforcement Officers Who Died by Suicide. This first time banquet was held in conjunction with National Police Week and was sponsored by BLUE H.E.L.P. Its purpose was to honor and recognize the service of offices who made that fateful decision and their survivors. It is Blue HELP’s mission to put names and faces to the men and women of Law Enforcement whose emotional injuries become too much to bear. Although the number of Law Enforcement personnel who take their own lives typically exceeds… Continue reading
Have you read the 458 page softcover resilience textbook: Armor Your Self: How To Survive A Career In Law Enforcement and want to learn more?
We are bringing our Armor Your Self™ workshops to a city near you:
Armor Your Self™ 2019 Preliminary Spring Workshop Calendar includes workshops in Daytona Beach, Florida; Columbus, Ohio; Lansing, Michigan; Omaha, Nebraska; Pueblo, Colorado; Glendale, Arizona and one hosted by the Louisiana State Police.
To learn more or register for one of these workshops visit: https://armoryourself.com/register/
The Armor Your Self™ project is a powerful concept that will begin building the foundations of law enforcement health and wellness for your personnel, your families and for your organization.
The program is taught as a Resilience Research Learning Laboratory with all the participants researching, discussing and learning information that is specific, and important to them.
Each participant receives a copy of the 458 page softcover resilience textbook: Armor Your Self: How To Survive A Career In Law Enforcement by John Marx (a $24.95 value).
Participants will find the tools they need to recognize the symptoms of the toxic effects… Continue reading
Today is PTSD Awareness Day 2017 and June is PTSD Awareness Month here in the United States. Law enforcement officers can experience overwhelming issues of cumulative stress and even Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder known as PTSD. We need to start taking care of each other. Continue reading
September is National Suicide Prevention Month and this week is Suicide Prevention Week. Let’s stem the tide of law enforcement officer suicides together. Watch for these signs and learn more from our partners at mantherapy.org
Man Therapy is a tongue-in-cheek website to get men and especially first-responders to talk about and deal with the traumas they face. Follow them on the Man Therapy Social Channels
On Facebook at www.facebook.com/ManTherapy and on Twitter – @DrRichMahogany
Do you have a suicide prevention program in your agency?
Well, you no longer have an excuse for not having a program. With a 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 page. Get all the resources you need for free at www.CopsAlive.com/SuicidePrevention
National 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
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
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.
In May we published an article written by Carolyn Whiting the co-author of “The Crazy Lives of Police Wives” and I asked her if she would sit down and speak with CopsAlive.com about the book and her experiences as a former police officer and police wife.
Carolyn Whiting was a police officer for six years and she met Bob, her husband of twenty five years, while working in the same Police department. Carolyn retired due to a back injury and has been a housewife for the past twenty two years while her husband continues to work at the same department where they met. He has over thirty six years in law enforcement. Carolyn has a BA in Geography and was halfway through her MBA when she left graduate school to pursue her life-long dream of being a Police Officer, a decision she has not regretted.
The book is available at Amazon.com in both a paperback and Kindle version as well as at Barnes & Noble in paperback and for the nook.
Carolyn told me that the idea for the book came about after a discussion she had 3 or 4 years ago with… Continue reading
In honor of U.S. National PTSD Awareness Day please visit the website of the National Center for PTSD to learn more about this disorder. PTSD Awareness Day is part of U.S. National PTSD Awareness Month which was created to bring awareness to this psychological disorder.
Their concept is simple: Raise PTSD Awareness
Learn. Connect. Share. Learn: PTSD treatment can help Connect: Reach out to someone Share: Spread the word
Our Law Enforcement Survival Institute, and CopsAlive.com recommendation is to consider a four-part approach to encouraging the emotional well-being or the people in your law enforcement agency:
1. Learn all you can about PTSD using some of our recommended links below and the hold a discussion at your department using our 10-Minute Roll Call Discussion Guide on the Police PTSD Paradox CLICK HERE to download the discussion guide.
2. Initiate Police Psychologist Jack Digliani’s “Make It Safe” Initiative that promotes making it safe for officers to ask for psychological support CLICK HERE to learn more about the initiative on Jack Digliani’s website
CLICK HERE to download Jack Digliani’s Implementation Guide for the “Make It Safe” Initiative
CLICK HERE to download a poster/info sheet about the “Make It Safe” Initiative.
3. Publicize the Safe Call Now crisis hotline for first responders
Add the number into your contact list 1-206-459-3020 and publicize it around your agency. CLICK HERE to visit their website and learn more about their great work
4. Start or recommit to a Proactive Peer Support program within your department. Our belief at CopsAlive.com is that Peer Support should be formalized and encouraged throughout the agency or department and should be a proactive initiative where Peer Support Team members regularly check-in with their peers rather than waiting from someone to approach them. CLICK HERE to download Psychologist Jack Digliani’s Peer Support
CLICK HERE to download Peer Support Guidelines as published by the International Association of Chiefs of Police in 2011