3 Police officers commit suicide in seperate incidents http://www.privateofficer.com
No one knows why but often times police officers faced with stress, frustration, grief or a situation where there seems to be no other way out, choose to keep it bottled up inside until the pain is unbearable and they end their own life.
Dr. Larry Combs, a PHD who studies police suicides said that there is no one defining thing that can point to whether or not a person, much less a police officer who sees and faces so much more than any average person, has suicidal tendencies. There are a number of signs and words that can alert us when an individual chooses to verbalize or show other outward signs of thoughts of harming themselves but often police officers keep their thoughts private and don’t discuss them with spouses or even co-workers.
We have to be tuned in to physical actions and body language especially after tragic events such as when a person dies and the officer feels he should have rescued or could have prevented the victims death. Or in situations when a partner or co-worker is killed and the officer feels that he let them down or didn’t do what was necessary to save that person or he becomes distraught over inadequacies on the job, in his marriage or in his own life.
Things that we may see as just a sad situation or tragedy, the officer may make personal and blame themselves for not being a super cop and when combined with other areas in their life that they aren’t feeling good about, could very well set them up for suicidal thoughts or even drastic actions.
In south Florida police found Officer Henry Ortiz with a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Although few details have been released, it was said that Ortiz had been distraught over a recent break up with a girl friend.
At almost the precise time and on the same day officers in Detroit found one of their officers dead. Sergeant David Cobb had also committed suicide.
Police had been investigating the police sergeant and charged him in the “murder for hire” of his wife but prosecutors dropped charges when they decided that there wasn’t enough evidence to take the case to trial. Cobb was back on the job when he was found Saturday by other officers.
Kansas City Kansas Police Chief Sam Breshears said that his officers responded to a wreck involving two off-duty city officers early Saturday morning. Although he did not release details of the accident, he did say that one of his officers, Mark A. Jaramillo was killed in the wreck.
Hours later word came that the surviving officer, Kyle L. Kovac was distraught over the death of Jaramillo and police were dispatched to his apartment where they found that Kovac had already commited suicide.
While suicide among law enforcement continues to be on the rise, many departments still do not have any internal program or resources to assist officers before they reach that point. Some departments in many ways choose to not even acknowledge this increasing tragedy while other departments immediately respond to situations where officers are under additional stress, have been involved in high stress or tragic incidents involving victim or family deaths, natural disasters or other major situations that may be mentally draining or disturbing for the involved officers. Some departments also are spending more time and money or debriefing and crises intervention by mental health professionals during these times.
Police officer suicides are not regional or just occurring in any one particular part of the country but are happening nationwide.
When Matthew Morelli, a 38-year-old police officer in Norwalk Connecticut was found slumped in a secluded parking lot with an AK-47 rifle on March 21, state and local authorities spent two days looking for a suspect, with helicopters and police dogs scouring the neighborhood, where witnesses reported hearing multiple shots. The culprit turned out to be a stealthy if surprisingly familiar cop killer: suicide.
“We’re all numb,” said William Curwen, the president of Norwalk’s police union, speaking for many at Officer Morelli’s wake almost a week later.
Within one recent week, a 35-year-old New York State trooper fatally shot himself with his service pistol after learning that he might be disciplined for minor misconduct, and a New York City police officer was found dead in her home in Upper Manhattan, propped up in bed with the Glock pistol that delivered the fatal shot in one hand, a beer can in the other. And the Los Angeles Police Department, which has counted one or two suicides annually in recent years, presented a report last month calling for online prevention programs for all employees, additional training for supervisors, and psychologists at roll calls to discuss the topic with officers.
While line-of-duty deaths grab the public’s attention, experts say that law enforcement officers more often — perhaps two or three times more often — die by their own hands. Comparing suicide rates within law enforcement with those in the general population is difficult because statistics are kept by different agencies and it is hard to account for demographics. Also, the general population does not undergo the extensive psychological and physical screening most officers undergo when they are hired, making comparisons questionable. But many who have studied the phenomenon agree that the stress of the job and easy access to weapons can contribute to a higher risk for suicide.
“We’re losing a police officer every 19 or 20 hours of self-inflicted wounds,” said Robert E. Douglas Jr., a former Baltimore police officer and chaplain who runs the National Police Suicide Foundation in Maryland. “It is a big wow.
Mr. Douglas estimates that 400 to 450 officers kill themselves each year, compared with 150 to 200 who die in the line of duty.
Dr. Combs believes that this trend will continue and may even increase as the economy continues to be spiraling downward, departments are stretched with funding causing financial, and other job related stress on officers and crime is once again on the rise.
What departments need to do to save their officers lives is to implement a program where mental health personnel get involved more often and not just in group debriefing but on a personal basis. Field supervisors and co-workers need to be willing to encourage the officer to seek immediate help when faced with possible high stress or situations that could cause an officer to question is value, his abilities as a police officer including whether or not he could have saved a person involved in a fire or traffic accident or other situation the officer had been involved in.
If the officer won’t acknowledge that he needs help or refuses to seek a counselor, supervisors and co-workers need to tell their chain of command and make them aware of possible situations that may lead to an officer’s suicide.
Mental health officials and law enforcement supervisors agree that there is no wall or blue line or secrets when it comes to an officer being in trouble or the possibility of the officer taking their own life. It’s no different that if the officer was in any other life threatening situation. You would call reinforcements and send back up and everybody would respond to their call for help. It needs to be the same way for an officer who mentally needs stabilization and is calling for assistance. Everybody needs to run toward them.
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