I responded to several suicide scenes when I was in uniform, but one in particular stands out. It was right before Christmas, and the woman left a note. It was a bitter note, making it clear that in her mind, the suicide was meant to punish her estranged husband. I realize that not everyone who takes their own life has that type of goal in mind. They are usually in pain and just want the pain to stop. I don’t claim to be an expert on suicide—I’ve never contemplated it, and I honestly don’t understand it—but I recognize that people who do consider it a solution need help. As a police officer I was trained to try to help suicidal people not hurt themselves. But what happens when the tables are turned, and it’s the cop considering suicide?
Sadly, cops do kill themselves. It’s a growing problem that has many causes, none easy to pinpoint or deal with. There is hope, there is help out there, but a culture shift may be necessary.
Recently, a man I worked with and around years ago committed suicide. We weren’t close, but he was a brother in blue and I remember him as tough and hardworking, so I was surprised when I read about the circumstances of his death. A few months earlier, another colleague, one whom I’d trained many years ago, also killed himself. I couldn’t believe it—two great cops and great people dead by their own hand. What was happening? Unfortunately, it opened my eyes to a much larger problem. Cops kill themselves at an alarming rate, and it’s getting worse.
According to bluehelp.org, “In 2018, at least 159 officers died by suicide, nine percent more than the total number of line-of-duty deaths resulting from 15 other causes such as felonious assault, patrol vehicle accident, heart attack, [and] duty-related illness.”
That number staggered me, and sadly, it’s since been updated to 165 as more suicides have been verified. Unfortunately, I’m used to seeing reports of officers killed in the line of duty while scrolling through my Facebook feed, but I had no idea how many great people we were losing to suicide. I’ve always believed that suicide was a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Janice Cantore