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”.
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.
This book will definitely have an impact on all who read it.
With a synopsis of the author’s career and the struggles he and his family endured as a result of his chosen profession, a chapter written by his wife giving her perspective of that career, and a chapter by David Joseph, a respected psychologist, readers are somewhat prepared when they begin to read about ‘Our Heroes’.
‘Our Heroes’ are 8 featured police officers who took their own lives. Each one of the officers are portrayed as the amazing human beings they were and it is a complete waste and disappointment that they are not with us today.
The most heart wrenching portions of this book however, are the letters from the officers’ loved ones. Letters were written to each officer after their death. Questions like “Why”, “What were you thinking”, “Why didn’t you talk to me”, and “Was it really that hard to ask for help?” are asked and of course, will never be answered by the one they are asking.
My Life For Your Life not only tells a story, but explains to police officers,… Continue reading
CopsAlive was honored this week to be able to interview a police officer who attempted suicide and survived, and has maintained their career. This is critical to our discussion about wellness in law enforcement because we have a problem in our industry that we need to fix. Statistics indicate that somewhere between 2-6 times more officers kill themselves each year than are murdered in the line of duty. Police officer suicides are an issue that is long overdue for serious discussion within our profession.
It seems that the person who is best suited to describe this problem is someone who has been there, and lived through the depression leading up to a suicide attempt. Officer Kathleen Graves of the Seattle Police Department is just such a person, who after a lifetime of battling chronic pain, an addiction to pain killers, and bouts with depression, attempted to take her own life a little over a year ago. She created an elaborate plan to give away all of her worldly belongings, including her beloved dog, and even checked into a hotel room under an assumed name. She chose a hotel outside of her own jurisdiction to avoid traumatizing her peers, then she took a massive amount of pain killers. When she realized she hadn’t died, she took even more pills but was found by her rescuers before they could kill her. Her story is fascinating, and even more crucial for other officers to hear, because she was rescued, despite her own efforts to hide from her rescuers, and has been able to rebuild her life and her career. It is a remarkable story of tragedy and triumph. It is also a great starting point for an informed discussion about police officer suicides.
You can CLICK the play button here to listen to our 55 minute interview:
Or you can download the 10 MB mp3 file by using a RIGHT CLICK HERE to start the download (that’s CONTROL CLICK if you use a Mac then SAVE LINK AS…) of a copy of the mp3 file.
In our interview you will hear Officer Graves, a 14 year veteran, talk about her battles with chronic pain; her struggle with depression (a condition faced by many police veterans) and her feeling of burnout. She describes… Continue reading
Thanks to American Police Beat and the San Francisco Police Officer’s Association for putting the issue of police officer suicides on the “front page”. On the front page of their February 2011 edition, American Police Beat magazine features an article by Gary Delagnes the president of the San Francisco Police Officer’s Association entitled: “We need to talk about suicides”.
Police officer suicides are an issue that is long since overdue for serious discussion within our profession. We need active discussion, awareness training and action because If we don’t care about it, who will. We are leaving a legacy for our police families to deal with because we are too ignorant or afraid to handle the fact that more of our brothers and sisters are falling at their own hands than are being murdered in the line of duty. This is an issue that should be discussed in Command Staff meetings as much as in Roll Call sessions about the world. CLICK HERE for a copy of our Roll Call discussion guide.
Statistics indicate that somewhere between 2-6 times more officers 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 has shown*.
What to Do?
We Need to Discuss This Topic Now. It should be a part of Roll Call Training and at every level of your organization. We should ask:
Did You Know Someone Who Committed Suicide?
Have You Ever Contemplated Suicide Yourself?
How Should We Help Someone We Think May Be Contemplating Suicide?
On Friday September 4th CopsAlive is honored to be able to interview Robert Douglas the Executive Director of the National Police Suicide Foundation in the United States in our next LIVE webinar/teleseminar.
Robert is a retired police agent from the Baltimore City Police Department. He served as Chaplain for Baltimore City from 1988 until 2002. He is currently serving as Chaplain for ATF in Baltimore and Washington, D.C. During his time in these positions, he became aware of the need for assistance for police and emergency workers as well as the families of suicide victims. Rev. Robert Douglas, with the help of his wife, Carolyn, survivors of police suicide and friends, formed the National P.O.L.I.C.E. Suicide Foundation, Inc. They feel many of these suicides occur because… Continue reading
Police Officer Suicides are becoming an epidemic. Over the last several years suicides by police officers have out numbered the number of officers killed in the line of duty by 3 to 1. It is estimated that between 400 to 500 officers take their own lives each year. This is a major problem and as law enforcement professionals we must resolve this problem ourselves. The first step is awareness and then we must take action. I started this blog at www.copsalive.com when a friend and former Sheriff’s Patrol Sergeant committed suicide. No one saw it coming and in my twenty three years as a police officer… Continue reading
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