It’s National Suicide Prevention Week again (September 9th – 15th, 2018) in the United States which is a week-long campaign to inform and engage health professionals and the general public about suicide prevention and warning signs of suicide.
I lost one of my law enforcement friends to suicide in 2007 and that’s what prompted me to start CopsAlive.com.
In my opinion, law enforcement suicide is a symptom of what ails our profession, and it should be an priority issue to resolve — but it hasn’t been.
This year, I thought I would follow suit with some other enlightened thinkers on this issue and challenge you to think about how our law enforcement culture contributes to suicide, and how we can fix that… Continue reading
How do you handle that one guest that just will not leave? I recently heard a definition for what trauma is. Trauma was defined as: when you leave the scene, but the scene does not leave you. That definition resonated with me. How many calls did I leave that did not leave me?
I know we all have scenes and calls that have not left us. Some are years old. Some are obvious. The larger scenes and the obviously tragic calls stay with us. It is expected. In my department, certain calls are expected to cause trauma such as an officer involved shooting or a line of duty death.
When something like that happens, peer support is automatically activated and… Continue reading
The second as an article posted by the National Center for PTSD entitled Help Someone You Love on PTSD Awareness Day. (Today is National PTSD Awareness Day – see below for links and resources).
I’d like you to read both and then share your comments here about how we can better serve our brothers and sisters behind the badge.
We should not have to Suffer In Silence!
When I read the Diary of a Suicidal Cop, I am saddened, I am moved and I can readily identify with lots of the feelings, but that still doesn’t mean we can’t help those who need it most… Continue reading
A just-released White Paper on Mental Health and Suicide among First Responders commissioned by the Ruderman Family Foundation examines mental illness among police officers and firefighters, who commit suicide at a higher rate, and have PTSD and depression as much as 5 times higher… Continue reading
EDITORS NOTE: This time of year can be tough for cops and other emergency responders just like everyone in society. It’s hard to think about suicides, but maybe this is the best time for us to look after our health as well as that of our peers. Julie Zielinski is a Law Enforcement Survival Institute faculty member who lost her Sheriff’s Deputy son to a completed suicide. Julie now writes and teaches about suicide prevention for law enforcement professionals. As the newedition of her book Matt’s Last Call: Surviving Our Protectors is released she reflects upon her journey. Read to the end of the article to find our free CopsAlive suicide prevention resources that you can activate in your agency TODAY!
My Journey 2017
On June 1, 2005, my 27 year old son, Matthew Zielinski, took his life due to a failed relationship. At the time he was a Chelan County Sheriff Deputy in Washington State, who had achieved this dream job eleven months earlier. Obviously, it was devastating to my family and I but more about my journey later.
This tragic event has birthed in me a passion to learn everything I can about suicide prevention in law enforcement. Through research, attending conferences, and contact with experts in the field it appears that deaths by suicide in law enforcement are 2-3 times greater than line of duty deaths (LOD) nationwide. This is astounding yet little is being done by law enforcement agencies to spend more time with mental health issues including suicide prevention. In fact, cover-up is common.
First responders and public safety workers experience repeated exposure to trauma through their work. This can have a lasting impact on mental well-being and puts these men at increased risk. As a result of career-related stress, first responders and public safety workers often face… Continue reading
September is National Suicide Prevention Month and this week is Suicide Prevention Week. Let’s stem the tide of law enforcement officer suicides together. Watch for these signs and learn more from our partners at mantherapy.org
Man Therapy is a tongue-in-cheek website to get men and especially first-responders to talk about and deal with the traumas they face. Follow them on the Man Therapy Social Channels
On Facebook at www.facebook.com/ManTherapy and on Twitter – @DrRichMahogany
Do you have a suicide prevention program in your agency?
Well, you no longer have an excuse for not having a program. With a video produced by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), the Working Minds Program and the Carson J Spencer Foundation, and our CopsAlive.com roll call discussion guide you can create a ready made program the moment you finish reading this page. Get all the resources you need for free at www.CopsAlive.com/SuicidePrevention
We should care about our mental health and the effects of PTSD because law enforcement is a high-risk, high-stress career that exposes all of us to excessive amounts of trauma and tragedy and we ALL need to learn that we can’t cope with all that negative stuff just by surprising it. Good mental health, like good physical health doesn’t come automatically, you have to work to build strength in both areas and taking care of your emotional Self is as important as taking care of your physical Self. When you do become injured physically or emotionally it helps if you understand the issues surrounding your injury and know about your treatment options. Learning about PTSD and other issues that can challenge your mental health can be as important as learning about physical conditions like back injuries and the preventative strategies that can help mitigate those injuries.
In their section on PTSD Basics, the National Center for PTSD operated by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs says “After a trauma or life-threatening event, it is common to have reactions such as upsetting memories of the event, increased jumpiness, or trouble sleeping. If these reactions do not go away or if they get worse, you may have Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).”
National Partnership Launches Police Suicide Prevention Facilitation Guide
At its highest levels, the national law enforcement community acknowledges suicide prevention as a health and safety priority. In 2012 there were 126 documented suicides of police officers (versus 49 killed by gunfire in the line of duty). In 2013 the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) held a forum called “Breaking the Silence: A National Symposium on Law Enforcement Office Suicide and Mental Health,” and in 2014 the IACP helped develop a video in partnership with the Carson J Spencer Foundation, the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, and the American Association of Suicidology entitled Breaking the Silence: Suicide Prevention in Law Enforcement (access video here: https://youtu.be/fBJbo7mnnBs). In recognition of Suicide Prevention Month, and as part of an expanded collaborative effort, the partnership is releasing a video facilitation training guide for law enforcement agencies. The guide can be downloaded as a free PDF here: http://carsonjspencer.org/files/9214/4078/2987/20150817_LE_Video_Guide.pdf
“As a law enforcement officer for 30 plus years, the last eight as chief, I recognize the value of sustained, comprehensive and coordinated suicide prevention efforts for… law enforcement agencies. These tools can provide departments with an important first step in opening discussions around the sensitive issue of suicide and mental health,” said Kenosha Police Chief John Morrissey, member of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention’s Workplace Task Force. Continue reading
I recently had a chance to interview Captain (ret.) Dan Willis formerly of the La Mesa Police Department in California about his new book Bulletproof Spirit: The First Responder’s Essential Resource For Protecting and Healing Mind and Spirit. Dan spent 26 years working in law enforcement and retired as a Captain from La Mesa PD. Dan worked as a crimes of violence, child molest, homicide and cold case detective, a SWAT Commander, and as the agency’s Wellness Program Coordinator. He is a graduate of San Diego State University with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Criminal Justice. He has taught for 10 years at the San Diego Police Academy, and has been Officer of the Year twice with nominations for Detective of the Year for the State of California.
Dan is a graduate of the F.B.I. National Academy in Quantico, Virginia, where he studied emotional survival issues for first responders. While he was attending the FBI National Academy he took a class that changed his life and set him on a path to help the people who worked for him and ultimately to write this book for others. Dan now takes his four hour training class to anyone that needs him, and feels he is really making a difference. I know he is.
Dan said that when he was in the Emotional Survival class at the FBI National Academy one of the other participants described himself as a “victim of my profession” and that got Dan’s attention as a classic example of how many people in our law enforcement profession feel victimized by all the… Continue reading
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