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Cops and Suicide

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Th_plugman1_max50

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Posted almost 7 years ago

 

I do a lot of research and came upon cops that commit sucide. I was surprised at the number of our brothers and sisters that go through it. I then began looking to see if there is any help if any of us needed it. Every site I went into talked about everyone else but law enforcement. The only thing about cops was to call us if "they" are thinking about committing suicide. I know a lot of bigger agencies have some sort of support, but what about other agencies that don't or are to small. Most officers don't want everyone to know they need help. I know this is a morbid topic, but unfortunatly happens to often. Any thoughts.

Kirlian-fingerprints_max50

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Rate This | Posted almost 7 years ago

 

SGT,

I’m not sure if you have read the post called "Look out religion thread" Well ChaplainKeppy is one those people who steps in and helps the officers who are having issues. It’s their goal and so fourth... There is help out there it's the fact of budget is small that’s when these Keppy people step in for free and help... Talk to her she can explain the services better than I can...


“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”
– Eleanor Roosevelt

Th_plugman1_max50

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Rate This | Posted almost 7 years ago

 

Clover, thanks.

Kirlian-fingerprints_max50

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Rate This | Posted almost 7 years ago

 

Anytime SGT1202


“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”
– Eleanor Roosevelt

9-11-logo_max50

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Rate This | Posted almost 7 years ago

 

Sgt1202, police chaplains do indeed learn about police suicide, at least if they get their certification through the ICPC they do. And what Clover is saying is, most police chaplains are volunteers. If your agency doesn't have a chaplain program but is interested in starting one, you can look into it by contacting ICPC (The International Conference of Police Chaplains) at www.icpc4cops.

One of the best sources for infoon police suicide that I know is Robert Douglas of the P.O.L.I.C.E. Suicide Foundation. Do a Google search to get his website, he is VERY helpful. Bob came out to Western New York a couple of years ago to offer training to agencies out here, and he really knows his subject.

There is also some special training called ASIST, which equips a person to assess the degree of threat and respond when someone seems suicidal. (Not just for police suicide, but any suicide.) Google that one also, to see when and where some training might be offered in your area.

Please let me know if I can be of assistance to you.

063_max50

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Rate This | Posted almost 7 years ago

 

I had a friend of mine who had retired and just a couple of years later committed suicide. It was heart-breaking. He worked for two different departments in his career. Both in well to do communities in New Jersey. Therefore, he did not see the things that the big city departments see. My point is, it can happen to any officer. Also, I believe it shows other problems other than the job, although, I'm sure the job contributed. It should be mandatory that all departments know every resource that is available, and every officer is aware of these resources. And the studies should never stop as to why there is such a high suicide rate of police officers. There should be continuous training on the subject in each departments training schedule. Maybe the subject should come up once a month in roll call. Whatever it takes. ChaplainKeppy, God Bless You. Your assistance on this post, and your offer of assistance to someone you don't know, is very admirable.

9-11-logo_max50

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Rate This | Posted almost 7 years ago

 

Thank you, Jims4. Just doing my duty, as all you do yours. :-)

You are right that it is not just cops in big departments. And retired cops have a higher rate than the general public, as well. Being a cop is not just work, it becomes your identity. If you let it be your ONLY identity, you become very vulnerable when/if something goes wrong with your work.

Folks who have been here long can probably predict my next line, I say it so often, but here it is anyway: read Kevin Gilmartin's "Emotional Survival for Law Enforcement". He has excellent understanding and says it plain.

Photo_user_blank_big

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Rate This | Posted almost 7 years ago

 

Unfortunately, I have also had a couple of friends commit suicide, both while cops, but neither on the job at the moment of truth. And, both over botched relationships. In both cases, there were several of us that thought about their recent actions and noticed that "things weren't right" but none of us bucked up and said something. The only thing that puts some ointment in that emotional cut is that I did talk to another friend and we got help for him. He left LEO soon after that, but he is at least kicking and laying concrete. The point of this story is that if you honestly feel a bro or sis is having trouble and having thoughts of suicide, approach them tactfully, but honestly. If they get mad, so what? A day doesn't go by that I don't think about Pat, and his nephew now works for us, which is a constant reminder. Most departments now have an employee assistance program to help, but a good chaplain like Keppy is invaluable in both helping the vicitm officer, or the other officers that have contact with them. Sorry for the long post, hits an open nerve.

Th_plugman1_max50

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Rate This | Posted almost 7 years ago

 

Jack60, I'm sorry for your lose. I just have been thinking about my department and how we don't have anything. I know that being cops we are often to proud to ask for help and feel as if we are weak if we do. I just want my officers to know that there is help and they don't have to talk to one of us if they don't want, but at least give them the tools if they do need help.

9-11-logo_max50

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Rate This | Posted almost 7 years ago

 

Jack60, sorry for your losses-- but how good that you also have a "save"!

One thing Bob Douglas mentioned is that MANY times, there are some sorts of signs of trouble, but that people feel awkward about saying anything, or chalk it up to the sort of cynicism/depression that many express.

Some warning signs are: increased alcohol consumption, crying easily, becoming withdrawn, talking of suicide, writing/re-writing will, becominging disillusioned, lacking energy or motivation, becoming accident prone, losing love for the profession, becoming unconcerned about physical appearance, playing with his/her gun, expressing hopelessness. You can see why some of these would be easy to dismiss-- disillusionment, etc., run rampant with many officers, it is obviously not always a sign that someone is suicidal. But it CAN be a symptom.

Jack, you put your finger right on a big risk factor-- loss of an important relationship. Others are depression, loss due to death or divorce, marital problems, terminal illness, indictment, disability/retirement, feeling responsible for a partner's death, being involved in a shooting, being arrested. If an officer is experiencing these things, it is a good time to keep a closer eye on him or her. Becoming suicidal is certainly not inevitable, but research shows there is a heightened risk when these factors enter the picture-- they can be "trigger" events.

Bob recommends being absolutely frank and upfront with an officer. Ask if he or she is thinking about checking out. If they're not, they'll tell you. If they are, they'll tell you. They are surprisingly upfront about it. I've asked officers this, and (happily for me and the officers I've asked) they haven't been-- and they have not taken offense. Most of us know what it is to have suicidal thoughts, and someone who is really hurting will appreciate that you're taking that seriously and recognizing that we all have our limits.

If someone is thinking about killing themselves, that is cause for concern. Contact Bob at 1-866-276-4615 (voice mail 410-379-4814). (www.psf.org is his website, incidentally)

Ask if they have decided how they are going to do it. If they have, that is a real danger, cause for increased concern. Contact EAP and discuss with a family member-- but also remember that confidentiality is vital. EAPs are set up to handle things like this while preserving confidentiality.

Ask if they've thought about when they're going to do it. If they answer yes, they are at high risk, and you don't leave them alone. Take them to help.

Just guidelines, obviously, but the main thing is, if you are feeling uncomfortable and beginning to wonder, DON'T wonder-- ASK.

Kirlian-fingerprints_max50

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Rate This | Posted almost 7 years ago

 

Sorry CK, I didn’t mean to put you on the spot but felt you where the best person to answer this topic.... ;)


“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”
– Eleanor Roosevelt

367926427_m_max50

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Rate This | Posted almost 7 years ago

 

My dept has an EAP, consists of a patrolman and a boss. The patrolman is also a registere counselor (shrink) with a ton of knowledge in his field. I know this because I have known him since I was a kid. The other is a well liked street wise boss who lived things we can't imagine but came through and is a solid cop. I have seen friends go through these guys in situations that had this system not been in place would have lost their job, their family, or possibly their life. I think it is imperative that every dept have these programs. In fact one of my bro's just called me less than an hour ago to let me know hes OK>>

367926427_m_max50

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Rate This | Posted almost 7 years ago

 

I just wanted to add that both the ptl and boss do this on their own time and still actively participate in the daily function of the PD.

Photo_user_blank_big

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Rate This | Posted almost 7 years ago

 

Glad to see at least an attempt at an EAP. The whole idea of an EAP is that it is confidential. I don't think I would tell my capt. or chief that I was going to step in front of a truck, no matter how good of a guy he is. But, better than nothing. The more I talk with other cops, the more I find out how good I have it.....

Th_plugman1_max50

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Rate This | Posted almost 7 years ago

 

Jack60, your're right, and that is exactly what I want to avoid. Our department is too small and I know that even though we are like a small family the officers are not going to go talk to the chief or me for that matter and discuss the possiblity of suicide. This kind of thing needs to be confidential for our department to use it if it is needed.

Photo_user_blank_big

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Rate This | Posted almost 7 years ago

 

We have "New Directions" Don't know how much it costs, but might be worth looking into. I think the website is newdirections.com or .org. I don't remember.

9-11-logo_max50

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Rate This | Posted almost 7 years ago

 

A lot of EAPs or chaplaincies are set up so that, if an officer comes forward of his or her own free will with an issue like substance abuse or suicidal thinking, they will get help and their job will be waiting on the other end. BUT if they don't come forward of their own volition, and something "blows up", they don't have that same guarantee.

Setting that up ahead of time is a wise move on the part of an agency!

What that looks like is that the EAP or chaplain approaches the brass and says simply that they aren't going to see Officer Friendly for awhile because he/she is working on an issue. That's all they learn.

9-11-logo_max50

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Rate This | Posted almost 7 years ago

 

No problem, Clover, that is a "spot" I volunteer for!

:-)

9-11-logo_max50

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Rate This | Posted almost 7 years ago

 

At a chaplains conference in Canada a few years ago, I heard about a really great program-- I think it was called "Diakonos House". It was a house somewhere in BC in a residential neighborhood. Cops needing detox time or counselling time could come and stay there with their spouse while in treatment. There was a residential manager who cooked and cleaned, each family had their own room, and they could stay as long as needed to accomplish their program.

This allowed officers to get out of their own town for treatment, and to have a non-institutional LE-friendly place to stay.

They were trying to put one together in the Toronto area, too, but I haven't heard if they have succeeded at that yet.

Great idea, I think.

Img_3413_sq90_max50

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Rate This | Posted almost 7 years ago

 

I have a friend now retired from the RPD who came forward several years before he retired admitting he was diagnosed with depression and had been suicidal. He came forward because a mutual friend of ours committed suicide in part because of a botched marriage and in part because of having problems at work. Eric told the Chief (who knew he had been admitted a couple of times to the Psych Unit but never shared it with anyone) that he had to come forward so others could be saved. The Chief made it mandatory for all Officers to attend an In Service that Eric talked about his story and how because some officers saw aas well as his wife and all kept reaching out to him. He finally got and accepted the help he needed. What he tells the Officers is what to watch for in themselves and others. When he first disclosed there were snickers but guys started watching. They tell bosses and sometimes me if they know the Officer will listen to me and they keep talking until the Officer gets the help. Eric and his wife have done many trainings around the area and I believe has even gone out of state to do this to many PD's. I truly believe that as a result many lives have been saved. Because of Eric, Eddie didn't die for no no reason.

063_max50

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Rate This | Posted almost 7 years ago

 

What a great success story, cops1521. Thanks for sharing it. And God Bless Eric for having the guts to come forward. It surely saved his life, and others. My best wishes to him.

063_max50

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Rate This | Posted almost 7 years ago

 

I should say our best wishes. I'm sure there are many others here who feel the same.

9-11-logo_max50

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Rate This | Posted almost 7 years ago

 

That IS a great story, and heartening.

When someone is in a state of clinical depression, they feel 100% hopeless, like there is no future. The fact that they FEEL that way does not mean it is TRUE-- that is the depression itself speaking.

There IS life on the other side of it.

It is important to know that and reach out, and not allow the illness to win.

Images_max50

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Rate This | Posted over 6 years ago

 

In my department, we have C.I.R.T teams at each complex. We are trained in crisis intervention, not just for on the job but also for off the job. Basically any staff memberr who needs help, whatever the issue is, can ask for a team member to talk to, or if a staff member thinks one of their co-workers may need some assistance, they can request a team member for them. Alot of what we do is just listening to people talk out their problems and assist them in find ways to solve them. It is CONFIDENTIAL. We are called out 24/7.

The first of 2007, unfortunately, we found the need to give a suicide awareness presentation. Some of the facts are frightening when it comes to law enforcement and sucide.

For example- Law Enforcement Officers take their own lives more then most other occupations, to date, only dentists and attorneys commit suicide more often.

Nationwide, approximately 300 officers commit suicide each year. That's more than die in the line of duty
85% of them use their service weapon.

WHAT MAKES US SO SUSCEPTIBLE?

Seeing people at their worst may cause us to become cynical.

Rotating shifts may separate us from family, friends, social events.

We tend to self medicate with alcohol, nicotine, other addictions.
ALSO
Officers tend not to seek help and advice because they believe it to be a sign of weakness, fear others will talk, or they will lose their jobs.

Left unaddressed, the stresses of work and home can oftentimes be overwhelming.

We need to impress that it is not a sign of weakness. It takes strength to seek help.

If anyone one would like more information on our CIRT program or the Suicide Awareness presentation, please feel free to ask.

BOTTEM LINE is in LE we have to be there for each other!

0930121924_max50

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Rate This | Posted over 6 years ago

 

It happens to the best, I say it is the myth that if you ask for help you are weak. Thats why I think it happens so often without the person getting the help they need..

We have to find out the person with the problem, and help them as much as we can, because we all are brothers under God, and we need to look after each other.


I love each day like its my last! Why do we are have to be so serious?