Being a police officer is not an easy occupation to have in that you put your life on the line and have to worry about the lives of others who are in danger. According to the nonprofit Blue H.E.L.P., 228 current or former police officers died from suicide in 2019 and 172 the year before. It is important for more police officers to speak to someone about their troubling experiences on the job so that they protect their mental health.
Why is it Common For Police Officers to Commit Suicide?
Post-traumatic stress disorder is one of the biggest reasons why an officer would commit suicide. Police officers are targets for criminals and they always have to ensure that anyone who asks for help is protected. Sometimes, things do not work out the way the officer originally intended. The physical strain of working long hours can leave officers feeling hopeless and anxious. Police officers also have to witness murders, suicide, and domestic violence. It can leave them feeling depressed knowing they cannot always control the outcome of the situation as well as vulnerable. Plenty of police officers self-medicate with drugs or alcohol to get rid of those negative feelings without realizing it is only making their feelings worse.
What is Blue H.E.L.P.?
Blue H.E.L.P. (Honor.Educate.Lead.Prevent) reduces the mental health stigmas surrounding police officers through education, providing resources in their search for healing and honoring the police officers who committed suicide. This nonprofit began in 2015 when its founders Karen Solomon and Jeffrey McGill noticed suicide prevention and care for families who lost their loved ones to suicide wasn’t being offered to law enforcement. In 2017, they received a 501(c)3 designation and are the only organization that collects law enforcement suicide data and supports families in the aftermath. You can honor a police officer who lost their life to suicide by submitting the officer’s information and pictures to the website.
Why is it Important for Officers to Break the Silence?
Many officers think that asking for help is a sign of weakness since they are expected to be heroes. The truth is that even heroes get scared and need help just like everyone else. Their careers will not be in jeopardy if they need to talk to someone. By finding a group of other fellow officers to speak to as well as a mental health professional, suicide rates have the chance to lower.
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