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It is a hot topic, suicide in law enforcement and one that seems to generate a lot of talk. Different studies have been conducted with different findings but all show that suicide is part of law enforcement. Rather you are on the side of it being higher in the profession or on the side that it is the same rate as the general public, the same conclusion is present; one law enforcement professional taking their life is one too many.
If the general consensuses are that suicide in law enforcement is an epidemic and many feel it is due to undiagnosed PTSD or bad coping skills from the trauma that is seen on the job. If it is part of the job should we treat the death as a duty related issue?
This question of do you give full honors to someone who took there life strikes the match for a heated argument in many circles in law enforcement. If you believe suicide is a result from the job then shouldn’t it be treated like a death from the job? One thing for sure is treating it like a crime or act of weakness helps no one on the force. If we ignore it in our departments or talk about that officer as being weak you are going to create stigma for other personnel to want to reach out when they are in need.
Law enforcement already has a reputation as being a macho career. You must put on a mask like you are a warrior or robot and that nothing gets to you. Let’s face it we are human and it gets to us. Our culture at work extends off duty into our personal lives as people around us look up to us as being the tough one of the group. Instead of showing the truth we act like superman or batman hiding our human and emotional sides.
So here are some questions to ask yourself and your department:
Do you want to save your brother and sister’s life? Then change the culture in our profession. It won’t be easy but you can be a leader and take a stand on the words and choice of activities you do around the death of a co-worker. Change doesn’t happen overnight it takes time and change that defines a culture can be even harder. You can make a difference and you do have the ability to create positive change in your world.
Tips on happiness here.
Ask a Doc-Ask a Cop: The Mental Health Minute