I grew up in Motown, listening to Motown music, and I still remember hearing Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5 singing “ABC.” It has me asking the question today, “Can making a difference in the phenomenon of law enforcement suicide be that simple? I didn’t say “easy,” I said “simple.” And the answer is, there are 3 simple steps to bringing down the number of police suicides (and suicides of other first responders as well).
A – Address the Issue. Suicide among first responders is the issue that “we are not supposed to talk about.” But until we address the fact that we lose more officers to suicide each year than in the line of duty, and that research shows that 41% of officers would consider suicide an option, we will never make a difference.
B – Build Trust. Trust comes from relationships, and there is no stronger bond that the one that exists between fellow police officers. They can talk to one another because they understand one another. That’s why officers tell us – by a 4 to 1 margin – that they would rather have voluntary participation in an effective peer-to-peer support program than to be forced to have mandatory annual meetings with a mental health professional hired by their department.
C – Change the Culture. The number one reason officers don’t reach out for help when they should is because of the stigma associated with mental wellness. Departments need to stop punishing officers who need to talk to someone about their struggles. The culture of shame because of some perceived “weakness” has to change!
This is the motivation behind our unique Call for Backup Suicide Awareness and Prevention Campaign. We are well on our way to reaching our goal of presenting this program in all 50 states within the first 5 years (we are now in our second year). If you’re interested in bringing this program to your department or agency, or interested in having the founder speak at an event, simply send us a message and we’ll respond as soon as possible.