Suicide: The aspect that few people are willing to discuss.

Discussion Question: Should all police officer suicides fall into one category?

Let me start by saying that anytime a police officer commits suicide, it is a tragedy. A tragedy for them, their family and anyone who knew him or her.

Rarely does a day go by that I don’t think about and/or pray on how to lessen the number of officers who commit suicide each year. But I struggle with thinking that all suicides should fall into the same category.

I know personally and I know from working in Internal Affairs for 5 years that officers can often times be their own worst enemy. In most cases, suicide is the result of decisions made by the officer. I will start with some examples of the most egregious decisions and work my way towards the more subtle examples:

  • The intentional violation an important policy / procedure and/or state or federal law that could result in termination and/or jail time
  • Legal substance abuse (alcohol and/or prescription drugs)
  • Personal and professional relationships (divorce, affairs, break-ups, bullying, harassing, etc.)
  • Financial factors (acquiring too much debt, medical expenses, loss of family and/or personal income)
  • Choosing not to participate in a fitness / wellness program (assists with the handling of personal and professional stress/anxiety)

*In most suicide cases, there are multiple contributing factors.

For example, should the officer who commits suicide because he/she intentionally violated an important policy / procedure and/or state or federal law that could result in termination and/or jail time be given the same level of compassion as the officer who committed suicide for PTSD related reasons? Should both cases be classified as a Line of Duty Death (LODD)? Should both officers be memorialized? Should the surviving family members be given the same treatment?

Your thoughts?

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