Chaplain's Column: The Dark Epidemic of Law Enforcement Suicide

The heart of a noble knight beats in the chest of every man or woman who becomes an officer. Unfortunately, too many of these brave men and women end up in a situation where they think they cannot go on.

  1. A drop in performance in response time or rate, or a sudden increase in negative contact reports from the public
  2. Not wanting to talk to or be with friends
  3. Not wanting to participate in their normal activities
  4. Increased alcohol consumption, or drug abuse
  5. Verbal clues such as, "I'm just going to end it all." Or "I won't be around much longer."
  6. Finally, if they have gone through a period of depression and suddenly seem to just get better, a decision has been made.

I challenge every officer reading this article to ask a question and save a life. You have no difficulty questioning a suspect until you get to the truth. Yet, when we see our fellow brothers and sisters in blue obviously hurting, we ignore them. Or if we do ask, we immediately shrug it off when they say "I'm fine." If you suspect a person is suicidal, ask them if they are thinking about ending it all, or thinking about suicide. Don't ask if they want to hurt themselves. A suicidal person is not thinking about hurting themselves, they are thinking about how to make the pain go away.

If they have been thinking about suicide, don't judge. Be a friend and encourage them to talk about why. Just the fact that someone cares enough to ask the question, and is then ready to truly listen can be a huge step in the right direction. If they are suicidal, get them help. Don't leave it up to them to self-refer. Sometimes the greatest threat to an officer is themselves.

You've taken up a noble profession. Just like the Paladin Knights, it has a long history of heroism and bravery. It takes courage to ask difficult questions of our peers. When we do, we may very well be holding back those "staggering toward slaughter."

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