Spotting the potential signs of officer suicide
Know what to do and where to turn if you do identify an officer who’s walking a fine mental health line
Sometimes the greatest battle officers find themselves facing is the one you can’t always see being fought. It’s a battle in the mind and it can be deadly. With increasing job stress combining with escalating stresses in many officers’ personal lives, staying alert for signs of an “internal threat” to your fellow officers can be just as critical as watching for threats coming from the outside. Here are a few things you can do:
1.) Educate yourself on the signs and symptoms of depression. There are many and they can easily be located on the Internet. Just a few of the things to watch for:
2.) Have the guts to approach a potentially at-risk officer and make the effort to find out what’s going on. If you see start seeing signs of a possible problem, don’t blow it off assuming it will pass. Be discreet but be determined in your approach.
3.) Know what to do and where to turn if you do identify an officer who’s walking a fine mental health line. Familiarize yourself with the employee assistance and/or psych services your agency offers and get some advice from them on the next steps to take with an at-risk officer. It’s better for you to know immediately what to do next rather than having to take the time to research the appropriate course of action after you’ve determined there’s a problem. Time can be of the essence in these situations.
4.) Be honest with yourself. If you’re feeling depressed, DO get help. Know that help IS available, that there are scores of people who DO care and that personal challenges of every sort do pass. You’re not alone. Reach out…
Stay safe — physically and mentally.
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