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  • Self Destrution By LEOs

    Here is a site that addresses suicides within the law enforcement community. A retired California Highway Patrol Sergeant is actively involved in the group. Please share this information with all of the officers you know. In the past few years this dreaded issue has become a pressing problem in the LE community and, as has been stated, generally swept under the rug by agencies that experience a self destruction. Officers should be afforded competent treatment and made whole so they can return to their jobs with the ability to perform their chosen tasks - not fired and cast aside like a used plastic bag!

    THE BADGE OF LIFE
    A Psychological Survival Plan for Police Officers

    Serving the United States and Canada
    http://www.badgeoflife.com/home.php

    Tracking Police Suicides 2008

    NOTE: The tracking of police suicides is based on news reports, over 6,000 Google Alerts reviewed each month, and verifiable reports received from individuals. Studies show 17 - 20 percent of police suicides are misreported and a number are successfully kept from the media, but we don't see evidence that the difference is extravagant. As our data bank and profiling grows, we hope we can provide researchers a solid base by which to draw at least some general conclusions on patterns and areas on which to focus. Statistics from various sources can be found that are much higher, but the numbers and backgrounds we provide are sound and can be easily verified.

    Our effort to see a national system of reporting continues.
    http://www.badgeoflife.com/suicides.php
    Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence!

    [George Washington (1732 - 1799)]


  • #2
    Do cops commit suicide for the similar reasons veterans do?

    edit: oh wow, when I get some money I'll try and donate some to you guys.

    Comment


    • #3
      SgtCHP,
      I just recently saw a LEO from a local department come into our hospital after they had just taken over two bottles of pills. Very young and seemed to have everything but the stress of the job got to the patient according to the patients friend.

      It truly sucks to see that happen not only to LEO's but people in general. The ammount of visitors that came in from the patients department was truly amazing, huge support. LEO's should be given anything they need when it comes to seeking help in dealing with stress and depression in general.

      CrossFit

      RossTraining

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Taylor13 View Post
        Do cops commit suicide for the similar reasons veterans do?
        Thanks so much for mentioning us, SgtCHP. And what a great question, Taylor13.

        Here's an interesting quote from Eric Wahgren of Business Week: “In some ways, a cop's work may be even more traumatic than that of a soldier sent into a war zone, experts say. ‘The police officer's job, over many years, exposes and re-exposes them to traumatic events that would make anybody recoil in horror.’

        One of the things we're looking hard at are the effects of cumulative stress/PTSD on police officers. If you look at the suicides for 2008 (http://www.badgeoflife.com/suicides.php), you'll notice an alarming number are "unexpected," "a surprise," etc, even on departments with good prevention programs. We plan to continue our police suicide tracking to see if this trend continues...departments are doing a good job, it appears, of acting quickly after the "Big Incidents," but too many cases may be "slipping under the radar" because of the cumulative factor (we call it the "soul wounding" that takes place over the years).

        In either case, we're convinced our plan of annual, voluntary "mental health checkups" can go far to cut down on police suicides. That's our main message

        Andy O'Hara
        Badge of Life
        http://www.badgeoflife.com/

        Comment


        • #5
          The problem seems to be often misidentified as typical cop cynicism or power trip. Separating themselves from the rest of society, when your actually being culled out by non LEO. Folks just dont seem to realize or appreciate that an LEO becomes "one of them" in their minds. My own family have identified me as a cop when introducing me to new people when they dont i.d. other family by trade or profession. Interesting reactions you tend to get. My spouse learned the hard way, she's still proud of what I do but see's our side of tht issue now. Learn to recognize depression better among your peers and gently get to the bottom by talking. It's amazing how many want to talk and just have some understanding of the emotional conflict we find ourselves in at times. Good thread

          Comment


          • #6
            Is there anything you guys did to brace yourself for what you were about to get into(see,deal with ect), when you decided you wanted to be a LEO?...I can't imagine the stress, I've talked to alot of LEO's and stress is always something they bring up when talking about the job...
            sigpic

            Comment


            • #7
              I posted this back in April, in response to a thread on the same subject:

              My contribution to this thread won't break any new ground. I worked six years in the Employee Assistance Unit (EAU) serving 9000+ sworn and 3000 civilian employees. Each of them, had a family...our sevices were available to all of them. I have "cleaned up" after a suicide of a cops wife. I have planned and carried out funerals for officers who committed suicide. I have worked with, or around a dozen cops, over my 30 years, who killed themselves. I wrote articles for my union newspaper indicating the warning signs, created a suicide prevention video for my department, and have been credited with stopping a cop, or two from getting there.

              A gunfight with a crook on the street is a deadly encounter. Typically the officer has cover available, may be wearing a ballistic vest. The officer has a radio to request help. If hit, the officer will have a partner applying pressure to the wound within seconds. Paramedics, with direct radio link to an E/R nurse, will be at the wounded officers side within minutes, providing first-class trauma care. The potential scene of a suicide is usually behind closed doors. The officer is likely alone and does not want anyone there to prevent what is about to happen. The outcome is likely more deadly that what would have taken place on the street.

              Suicide has been described as, and I believe it to be, "A permanent solution to a temporary problem." In my experience, there has never been one note left stating that, "Tell the chief he did this to me!" or "I can't see one more fatal traffic!" or "I can't keep up with this mound of paperwork!" All of those cops killed themselves for the same reasons the rest of society does: relationships gone bad, ill health, pending arrest for committing a crime, and fear of financial insecurity. The difference is between cops and the general public is that cops get to carry the means of their death with them 24/7. Sometimes, the agency has even issued them the weapon with which they will end their life.

              The stats for the top five suicides, per capita, by profession are: Dentists, Cops, Mental Health Workers, Anesthesiologists, and Veterinarians. The common theme? Helpers, so-called problem solvers, eyewitnesses to misery and suffering most normal people don't see. Combine that with easy access to the means with which to kill oneself, and the all too common perception that "they" are above having a problem which "they" can't handle.

              Warning signs include, but aren't limited to:
              Recent relationship break. (Life doesn't mean much, anymore, to me without him/her)
              Isolation/Avoidance of social encounters with friends/co-workers.
              Recent diagnosis of ill health.
              Loss of job/status/position.
              Disregard of personal/home appearance.
              Giving away of precious possessions.
              "Envy" of the dead. (You know, his problems are all over now)
              Sudden interest in death benefits. (If something were to happen to me, what would my family get from my pension/insurance?)

              Strangely enough, when someone who has exhibited any combination of the preceding signs is suddenly, without explanation, happy and upbeat - there is real danger. They are likely happy because they see a close end, in sight, to their emotional pain.

              Many are afraid to ask the simple and most helpful question of a depressed co-worker: "(Name), are you thinking of hurting yourself?" Then following it up with, "I'm scared for you"...."here's what I see"..."I don't want to lose you as a friend"..."let's find you some place to get help"...and "Call me, anytime, when you're in a deep dark place and scared of what you might do to yourself."

              There is no doubt in my mind that among the O.com family are guys/girls who would jump in front of a bullet, on the street, that was meant for a fellow cop. Learning the warning signs of suicide and the places where a fellow cop might get help, safely, might accomplish the same noble deed.
              "You're never fully dressed without a smile."

              Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.

              Three things I know for sure: (1) No bad deed goes unrewarded, (2) No good deed goes unpunished, and (3) It is entirely possible to push the most devoted, loyal and caring person beyond the point where they no longer give a 5h!t.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Southflaguy View Post
                Is there anything you guys did to brace yourself for what you were about to get into(see,deal with ect), when you decided you wanted to be a LEO?...I can't imagine the stress, I've talked to alot of LEO's and stress is always something they bring up when talking about the job...
                From my experience, you really can't fully prepare yourself. When I decided it was what I wanted to do, I thought I did everything right --read up on it, spoke to a few LEOs, did a ride-along & researched agencies. What I didn't count on & nobody told me --was the alienation,extreme politics & lack of comraderie(here anyway) that existed. That coupled with a Dept. that "pigeon holes" its officers into groups led to a bout of depression after quite a few years & when told about it, the Dept STILL didn't do anything! I retired somewhat grudgingly realizing my health was worth far more than the job and that I love my family more than the work to put up with it any longer....

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by hemicop View Post
                  From my experience, you really can't fully prepare yourself. When I decided it was what I wanted to do, I thought I did everything right --read up on it, spoke to a few LEOs, did a ride-along & researched agencies. What I didn't count on & nobody told me --was the alienation,extreme politics & lack of comraderie(here anyway) that existed. That coupled with a Dept. that "pigeon holes" its officers into groups led to a bout of depression after quite a few years & when told about it, the Dept STILL didn't do anything! I retired somewhat grudgingly realizing my health was worth far more than the job and that I love my family more than the work to put up with it any longer....
                  Wow...Why didn't you transfer if you don't mind me asking?...If the department didn't take your concers seriously, plus no comraderie...Politics is a big thing here in Florida...BTW what do you mean by "pigeon hole" into a group...Hope you're happy and well...Thanks...
                  sigpic

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Kieth M. View Post
                    I believe it to be, "A permanent solution to a temporary problem." In my experience, there has never been one note left stating that, "Tell the chief he did this to me!" or "I can't see one more fatal traffic!" or "I can't keep up with this mound of paperwork!"

                    [B][I]All of those cops killed themselves for the same reasons the rest of society does: relationships gone bad, ill health, pending arrest for committing a crime, and fear of financial insecurity.
                    You make some good points, Kieth, that I have heard often, foremost among them the "permanent solution to the temporary problem" quote. That may be, but it overlooks the fact that suicide is a desperate last effort to escape pain for which there seems no end. I've been on the receiving end of the gun and talked to many others who have stared down that same tunnel, and I can assure you the suicidal person is not available to hear those words. For them, it is a very permanent problem indeed.

                    You may well be right that some cops do commit suicide for the same reason as "the rest of society," but one cannot overlook the tremendous pressures of the police job on top of what "society" endures. The pressures facing the account executive are difficult to compare to those of the cop regularly being spat in the face and listening to a lifetime of screams. The factors you leave out, however, are the elements of PTSD and the "code of silence" that the account executive is not trapped within and which remains very much alive in today's law enforcement. Textbook "warning signs" are all good and well and work in many cases, but if you understand the dynamics of cumulative stress, you know how well they can be masked--and are.

                    As far as the occupational rates you cite, part of the problem is the lack of reliable suicide data on police officers. No one has been keeping any kind of verifiable numbers, and our group has only begun this year. Frankly, you may well be absolutely right that there are other occupations with higher suicide rates.

                    Having been one, however, this is my direction of study and help--my heart goes out to the others. Our focus, in fact, is not "just on suicides"--we believe that for every police suicide, there are hundreds or thousands of officers out there still working the road alongside the ghosts of their "soul wounds." Our efforts are directed towards them, as well.

                    Your points are excellent--and for some there are no answers as yet. One answer we have found, however, is the proactive one of active therapy, which we are determined to sell (free) to officers, departments and retirees.
                    http://www.badgeoflife.com/

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      This has been a hot topic recently, particularly on my department. There was just an article posted here on O.com a few days ago that was written about my department. I can't find the link or I'd post it.

                      A new thing our academy class has started doing is a "Suicide Prevention" course, or something of the like. I believe that it just started recently, as in the last year or two, so hopefully it will help the problem, at least in any way at all.

                      Our department as lost six of our approximately 2000 officers to suicide in the last three years. I personally knew five of them, and one of them was a close friend. Its a really weird feeling when you find out what's happened. You get really upset first, maybe cry, maybe not, then you get angry... "Why would you do that?!" It's not like losing someone in a car accident or to cancer... it feels more personal than that. It's hard to forgive that person, even though they thought they were only hurting themselves. You wonder why you didn't see it coming, if there was anything you could have done to help...

                      My heart goes out to anyone who has lost someone in this way. Its a terrible thing to happen to anyone. Just remember, it isn't your fault. Blaming yourself won't help anything. And if you are feeling depressed, please please get help. Don't hurt everyone you'll leave behind with a rash decision.

                      Be safe out there.
                      Oh, yes, the past can hurt. But the way I see it you can either run from it... or, learn from it!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Southflaguy View Post
                        Wow...Why didn't you transfer if you don't mind me asking?...If the department didn't take your concers seriously, plus no comraderie...Politics is a big thing here in Florida...BTW what do you mean by "pigeon hole" into a group...Hope you're happy and well...Thanks...
                        A good question --- 2 reasons--- First. it was important to me to make my family happy ( LEOs have a big problem with that to start off with) & my wife was happy here. Second & to be very honest, there's a stigma to officers that wander from PD to PD simply trying to fit-in --- so much so that "60 Minutes" did an segment on that very thing some years ago, referring to them as "gypsy cops" which doesn't make you very appealing to any employer. "Pigeon holing" refers to placing someone in a group & never letting him/her out of that group, i.e. "Oh, he's only good as a Patrolman" or "He's DEFINITELY managemant material" when perhaps that person would like to do something other than that. It happens ALOT here. When these things happen an officer really feels trapped & the results can be anything from poor performance to ultimately suicide. Depending on one's resiliancy you either give up the job/career or tough it out until you can't stand it anymore & quit or retire.
                        The sad thing about all this is we as police officers are born or taught to never admit our frustrations or weaknesses and we plod along in life untilit's all too unbearable. I was lucky -- I muddled through & occassionally had a good time -- others aren't so lucky, don't realize it and suffer the consequences.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Here's the problem as I see it.

                          If you're an accountant or a business man or a used car salesman, and you're feeling depressed, you tell somebody. You talk about it. You go to therapy. No one frowns on you.

                          If you're in LE, and you say you're depressed, all of a sudden everyone is worried that you aren't capable of doing your job. Someone says the wrong thing to the wrong person and the next thing you know, your job is on the line.

                          So cops (and jailers) get depressed and then they aren't allowed to tell anybody. Which does indeed suck majorly.

                          When I went to therapy here a couple of years ago, the first thing my mother (a LEO) said, is "you shouldn't do that! Someone at work will find out and you'll lose your job."

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Well that's not entirely true. We have a P.O.S.T (police officer support team) that is completely confidential. You can't be fired for being depressed. You are just put on limited (inside) duty until you see a shrink that says you are fit for duty. At least that's how it works for MPD.

                            Honestly, I think its more of the idea that a lot of cops feel that they are supposed to be superheroes or something. They don't think its okay for them to cry or show emotion or be sad or upset. But the things we see are sad and upsetting. They just see it so much that they start to lose faith in humanity, and their emotions are hardened. Then when something happens in their own life, they completely crack because they can't let other people see them as "weak" and they don't know how to let their emotions out. This is why I think its really so important to keep a healthy spousal or significant other relationship. Not a must, but I really think it helps.
                            Last edited by Smolla126; 07-28-2008, 07:28 AM.
                            Oh, yes, the past can hurt. But the way I see it you can either run from it... or, learn from it!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              any forum of mental health issues reguarding LE or officer is taboo.
                              "they" be it brass, the public or whom ever.....makes some snap thought (like JM said) you can't do your job....your "crazy" and can't handle life, or what ever. The problem is that as people that enforce the law, help where there is a lack of control and then thy have "down days" people want to jump it to the next level.

                              point blank even cops have bad days. even cops get depressed. cops are people too.
                              sadly they are not treated as such much of the time.
                              ‘Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go.’
                              Oscar Wilde

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