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

Free webinar For Men Who Think of Sirens as Driving Music

Free webinar For Men Who Think of Sirens as Driving Music: Addressing the Emotional Needs of First Responders and Public Safety Officials

The Free webinar on Tuesday, April 11th, at 12 noon EST is for Men Who Think of Sirens as Driving Music: Addressing the Emotional Needs of First Responders and Public Safety Officials.

CLICK HERE to register for the webinar

First responders and public safety workers experience repeated exposure to trauma through their work. This can have a lasting impact on mental well-being and puts these men at increased risk. As a result of career-related stress, first responders and public safety workers often face… Continue reading

Stop Law Enforcement Suicides Now!

Man Therapy-Suicide Warning SignsSeptember 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

Here Are Some Other Resources To Help You:… Continue reading

Today is PTSD Awareness Day in the United States

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WHY SHOULD YOU CARE ABOUT PTSD AWARENESS DAY?

We should care about our mental health and the effects of PTSD because law enforcement is a high-risk, high-stress career that exposes all of us to excessive amounts of trauma and tragedy and we ALL need to learn that we can’t cope with all that negative stuff just by surprising it.  Good mental health, like good physical health doesn’t come automatically, you have to work to build strength in both areas and taking care of your emotional Self is as important as taking care of your physical Self.  When you do become injured physically or emotionally it helps if you understand the issues surrounding your injury and know about your treatment options.  Learning about PTSD and other issues that can challenge your mental health can be as important as learning about physical conditions like back injuries and the preventative strategies that can help mitigate those injuries.

In their section on PTSD Basics, the National Center for PTSD operated by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs says “After a trauma or life-threatening event, it is common to have reactions such as upsetting memories of the event, increased jumpiness, or trouble sleeping. If these reactions do not go away or if they get worse, you may have Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).”

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a… 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

Creating a Bulletproof Spirit

BulletproofSpiritCoverI recently had a chance to interview Captain (ret.) Dan Willis formerly of the La Mesa Police Department in California about his new book Bulletproof Spirit: The First Responder’s Essential Resource For Protecting and Healing Mind and Spirit. Dan spent 26 years working in law enforcement and retired as a Captain from La Mesa PD. Dan worked as a crimes of violence, child molest, homicide and cold case detective, a SWAT Commander, and as the agency’s Wellness Program Coordinator. He is a graduate of San Diego State University with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Criminal Justice. He has taught for 10 years at the San Diego Police Academy, and has been Officer of the Year twice with nominations for Detective of the Year for the State of California.

Dan is a graduate of the F.B.I. National Academy in Quantico, Virginia, where he studied emotional survival issues for first responders. While he was attending the FBI National Academy he took a class that changed his life and set him on a path to help the people who worked for him and ultimately to write this book for others. Dan now takes his four hour training class to anyone that needs him, and feels he is really making a difference. I know he is.

Dan said that when he was in the Emotional Survival class at the FBI National Academy one of the other participants described himself as a “victim of my profession” and that got Dan’s attention as a classic example of how many people in our law enforcement profession feel victimized by all the… Continue reading

Suicide Among Corrections Officers It’s Time for an Open Discussion

EDITORS NOTE: This article was written by guest contributor Michael Pittaro, assistant professor, criminal justice at American Military University and was originally published on InPublicSafety.com.

During my undergraduate education and on-the-job training as a young corrections officer starting in 1989, I was exposed to a plethora of research that focused on the various causes of and responses to prisoner suicides. Yet throughout my 20-year career in corrections, very little (if any) attention was paid to the issue of correctional officer suicides. Discussion of suicide within the profession was a taboo topic because corrections employees were not supposed to appear emotionally vulnerable or fragile. After all, emotional vulnerability often equates to emotional instability, which is perceived to be a weakness within the profession.

There has been much written concerning suicide among… Continue reading

Input Needed on Law Enforcement Suicide Prevention Video

Please give us your input on this law enforcement suicide prevention video

We want to know what you think!

The Carson J Spencer Foundation is conducting an exploratory survey to get a better sense of law enforcement’s thoughts and opinions about the “Breaking the Silence: Suicide Prevention in Law Enforcement” video and to give us some ideas about what might be useful in a facilitation guide.

Video can be accessed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-mDvJIU9RI
Evaluation survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/LESuicidePreventionVideo

Your answers will help others who… Continue reading

Law Enforcement Is A Family Commitment

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 12.30.27 PMEDITORS NOTE: Law enforcement cannot function effectively without the support of the family members who stand behind our professionals, and our police families might be the best “early warning system” for when our officers are suffering in silence. This article was provided by guest contributor Dea Bridge who has been married to a Law Enforcement Officer (LEO) for over 25 years, worked in Corrections, served as a volunteer Reserve Police Officer.

Law Enforcement is truly a family affair!

Society is routinely exposed to the mass media’s version of law enforcement via movies, cop shows, or news reports.  These Hollywood depictions are the only frames of reference the general public has for how individuals in this line of work should behave or how they think.  It’s no wonder many civilians (non-LEOs) have a skewed perception of the challenges faced by LEOs and their families.  While some have a more tailored glimpse of “cop life” based on personal relationships or past experiences, the majority has no realistic basis for their interpretations.  For simplicity sake in this article, Law Enforcement Officers will be collectively referred to as LEOs and also include Corrections Officers.  It should be noted that agency support staff, Dispatchers in particular, and other types of emergency service workers (Firefighters, EMTs, and Paramedics) face many of the same challenges as LEOs.  This grouping is not meant to minimize the trials faced by any one category, but rather to highlight the commonalities among people who strive to make our communities a better place to live.

Resources aimed at helping LEOs cope with the unique rigors of their professions are more abundant now than at any other time in history.  To a lesser degree, but increasing, is information specifically designed to aid family member’s with their own set of challenges.  Organizational attitudes of… Continue reading

The Importance of Developing Resilient Law Enforcement Officers

Can A Career In Law Enforcement Be More Than Just Dangerous, Can It Be Toxic?

The importance of developing resilient law enforcement officers is something that we all must work toward. Many in law enforcement suffer in silence from the hidden dangers and toxic nature of this career. Many allow the negative effects of this profession to undermine their abilities to maintain their composure, control anger, fear and frustration and offset the sadness and depression all influenced by the tragedy and trauma they endure. They struggle to maintain their physical, emotional and spiritual health as all the negative things they see every day slowly erode their ability to perform their jobs at the required high level of performance.

We want to help you or partner with you to fix this problem. The Law Enforcement Survival Institute is ready to help you build individual and agency resilience and we are here to partner with you to build a strong and positive law enforcement wellness culture. We have initiated several excellent training programs and research projects and we are looking several strong partners to begin long-term law enforcement training and research relationships.

STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM:

Current news reports are rife with stories about issues of police officer suicides, PTSD, depression, alcohol problems, citizen complaints, excessive force, police misconduct and “cultures of aggression”. The problems are serious and the solutions all require strategies of building integrity, professionalism along with mental and emotional strength.

The challenge facing the future of our law enforcement profession centers not around the question of how our officers are dying but, rather more importantly, how they are suffering?

Challenges like police officer suicide, fatigue, depression and PTSD are serious problems. A growing body of research on law enforcement professionals seems to indicate that this profession is very toxic with side-effects causing an increase in heart disease, diabetes and cancer and even a lower than normal life expectancy. If you include other worries like alcohol and drug abuse, depression, relationship problems, domestic violence, anger management, financial mismanagement, and other issues that affect officers, on and off duty, then you might even see signs of a crisis.

We should also be asking how effective and professional our law enforcement officers can be while… Continue reading