More law enforcement agencies are trying to prevent suicide in their ranks, says USA Today. The crime-fighting culture is about strength and control, and most officers think asking for help is a badge of weakness. “These folks are taught to suppress their emotions and soldier forward,” says Elizabeth Dansie, a psychologist who works with California police agencies. “It’s very difficult for them to admit they need help.”
The California Highway Patrol (CHP) is developing training for suicide awareness and prevention after eight troopers killed themselves in eight months last year, for a total of 13 since September 2003. The CHP toll is “the largest cluster I’ve seen for a department that size,” says Robert Douglas of the National Police Suicide Foundation. The International Association of Chiefs of Police is circulating a proposal to make suicide prevention tools available to all of the nation’s nearly 18,000 state and local police agencies. The suicide foundation says it has verified an average of 450 law enforcement suicides in each of the last three years, compared with about 150 officers who died annually in the line of duty. Douglas says no more than 2% of the nation’s law enforcement agencies have prevention programs.