Ron Curtin, 61, a 38-year veteran of the Roseville, Mn., Police Department, committed suicide last week, says the St. Paul Pioneer Press. A cop is more likely to commit suicide than to be killed by a bad guy, and advocates say dealing with and possibly preventing police suicide is a challenge often overlooked. The job’s stresses are obvious, but some experts say it’s those in combination with personal problems that often lead officers to suicide.
If you’re outside Curtin’s closest circles, don’t expect to learn why he turned his gun on himself. There’s often little public awareness, and even less public inquiry, into most suicides. Those of police officers are no exception. The media reported Curtin’s death only because the incident led police to close an interstate highway when a SWAT team was called in. Robert Douglas, a retired Baltimore police officer who founded the National Police Suicide Foundation in 1997, said, “This is a big, macho, manly, courage type of profession. We don’t show weakness. We show strength. Suicide, in our mind-set, is a sign of weakness. We can’t hack it, we can’t take the stress, so we chicken out and kill ourselves. When you have that kind of mind-set, you have a tendency to not want to address the issue. But you have to address it, because it’s the cancer in our profession right now.”