If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, please call 9-1-1, contact your local crisis centre, or go to the nearest hospital.
Connect with Crisis Services Canada Suicide Prevention Service responders now.
Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or
The National Hopeline Network at 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433).
“In some ways,” wrote one expert, “a cop’s work may be even more traumatic than that of a soldier sent into a war zone. The police officer’s job, over many years, exposes and re-exposes them to traumatic events that would make anybody recoil in horror.” - Shining a Light...
Shining a Light - The Story of My Wife's Suicide, Bipolar Disorder and the Police.
Breaking the Silence of Police Suicide...
These Days by Leslie Ann Ferguson
Few stories are more discouraging than that of our police suicide prevention programs in the United States and Canada. After their initial success in establishing peer support programs, employee assistance programs and critical incident management teams, progress has stopped for almost three decades and programs have made little progress since.
Why has this happened? There are several reasons:
First, we have the establishment of “feel good” programs based on little more than hope and pseudoscience. These, such as “Be Your Buddy’s Keeper” and “awareness programs” have consistently failed while suicide numbers have risen. Everyone listens, nods, shares a story, learns “the signs” to watch for in another officer (never will it happen to them) and they are “aware.” Officers leave knowing they should ask for help “if they need it.”
They have no idea what to do before then.
Second is a refusal to accept outcomes. When “awareness” fails, we must do more awareness and more reaching out, whether the process itself works or not. This is worsened when numbers are self-manipulated to demonstrate success—for example, speculation as to lives “saved” in spite of increasing number of suicides. Glowing statistics, while they attract support, don’t save lives.
The result of the above is that departments continue doggedly on, in spite of the results, doing the same things year after year. “We tried. We must try harder.”
The sad fact is that police suicides do continue to rise...
The world hates change, yet it is the only thing that has brought progress.
In lectures and interviews across the country (Canada & USA), there is talk about how “stressful” police work is. But can the horrors and nightmares of police work, the terrors of near-death experiences over ten, 20 or 30 years lead some officers to suicide? Research says, “Yes” but those in charge say, “No.” No one is suggesting that all police suicides are work related–of course not. But, over and over, we see cases in which officers have performed heroic acts and then died by suicide because of the trauma received from those very same actions.
Mental Health for Police Officers
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