Police, PTSD and Suicide Prevention

An interview with a source who preferred to remain anonymous, this guest post about PTSD related police suicide applies to the general population, too….

1. What is the rate of PTSD-related police suicides? (as far as you know, in any demographic that you are familiar with)PTSD, Police, Professional Perspective

On a REPORTED death, only about 22 states ask the employment of the individual weather it is a natural death or classified as  a suicide.   Looking at police Suicides this is at the low end; two police officers commit suicide every 17 hours, this is active, retired or the officer is up on chargers, some departments will not report it as a suicide because when a person commits suicide the insurance company will not pay the family INSURANCE BENEFITS and in most cases no other benefits go to the family so the department will cover it up as a ACCIDENTAL shooting.

2. What are some signs that someone is suicidal

WARNING SIGNS OF POLICE BURNOUT

PHYSICAL SIGNS

  • ¨ EXHAUSTION
  • ¨ ILLNESS, TRAUMATIC INJURY
  • ¨ MUSCLE TENSION
  • ¨ PHYSIOLOGICAL SYMPTOMS OF DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY
  • ¨ SLEEP DISORDER
  • ¨ PRESSURE BEHIND THE STERNUM

OCCUPATIONAL SIGNS OF POLICE BURNOUT

  • ¨ INCREASED NEGATIVE EMOTIONAL CONTACTS WITH THE PUBLIC
  • ¨ INCREASED ABSENTEEISM
  • ¨ LOW MORALE; FEELINGS OF ISOLATION AT WORK
  • ¨ LOSS OF PRODUCTIVITY
  • ¨ INCREASED ALCOHOL INTAKE
  • ¨ OVERLY PERSONALIZING THE JOB

PSYCHOLOGICAL AND EMOTIONAL SIGNS OF BURNOUT

  • ¨ ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION
  • ¨ MENTAL FATIGUE
  • ¨ LOWERED TOLERANCE FOR FRUSTRATION
  • ¨ FEELINGS OF HELPLESSNESS AND HOPELESSNESS
  • ¨ ANXIOUS ANTICIPATION OF THE FUTURE
  • ¨ JUDGMENTAL
  • ¨ CYNICAL DISTRUST OF OTHERS
  • ¨ INCREASED CHEMICAL / ALCOHOL ABUSE
  • ¨ THOUGHTS OF DEATH AND SUICIDE-PROFOUND GRIEF, INTENSE ANGER TEARFUL OUTBURSTS
  • ¨ INABILITY TO PERCEIVE OR GENERATE SOLUTIONS
  • ¨ SOCIAL WITHDRAWAL, IRRITABILITY
  • ¨ FEELINGS OF CHAOS AND TURMOIL IN ONE’S LIFE
  • ¨ DESPAIR-MAIN GOAL BECOMES JUST GETTING THROUGH THE DAY
  • ¨ PREVIOUSLY REWARDING ACTIVITIES ARE NO LONGER STIMULATING
  • ¨ LOSS OF SPIRITUAL VALUES
  • ¨ DISILLUSIONMENT ABOUT CAREER

REMEMBER WE SEE THINGS NOT AS THEY ARE, BUT AS WE ARE H.M. TOMLINSON

3. What’s the best way to assess if someone will actually follow through

SYMPTOMS OF EARLY WARNING SIGNS OF POLICE SUICIDES

  • ¨ LACK OF ENERGY OR MOTIVATION
  • ¨ HAS TOLD OTHERS ABOUT THOUGHTS OF SUICIDE
  • ¨ BECOMES WITHDRAWN, SOLITARY, SHY, AND EVEN AWKWARD
  • ¨ EXTREMELY QUIET, DOES NOT CONFIDE IN ANYONE
  • ¨ IS AN ALCOHOLIC OR IS TURNING MORE AND MORE TO ALCOHOL
  • ¨ SUDDENLY ACCIDENT PRONE WITH PERSONAL CAR OR SERVICE VEHICLE
  • ¨ LOOKS VERY TIRED OR IS SUFFERING FROM OVERWORK
  • ¨ UNABLE TO CONCENTRATE FREQUENT INJURIES
  • ¨ IS MORE AGGRESSIVE; IMPULSIVE WHEN HANDLING SERIOUS CALLS
  • ¨ IS VERY PROUD AND UNABLE TO DEAL WITH FRUSTRATION
  • ¨ CRIES OFTEN
  • ¨ SEEMS MORE AGITATED OR NERVOUS
  • ¨ USES TRANQUILIZERS COMBINED WITH ALCOHOL
  • ¨ HAS WRITTEN LETTERS TO CLOSE FRIENDS OUTLINING THEIR WISHES IF SOMETHING WERE TO HAPPEN TO THEM
  • ¨ SEEMS TO LOSE THEIR LOVE FOR THEIR PROFESSION AND WITHDRAWS FROM PEOPLE THEY ARE CLOSEST TO
  • ¨ HAS WRITTEN OR REWRITTEN THEIR WILL
  • ¨ IS DISILLUSIONED
  • ¨ HAS TRIED TO COMMIT SUICIDE BEFORE
  • ¨ NO LONGER CONCERNED ABOUT THEIR PHYSICAL FITNESS OR PHYSICAL APPEARANCE
  • ¨ BEGINS PLAYING WITH HIS OR HER GUN, POINTS JOKINGLY AT SELF OR OTHERS FOR NO REASON
  • ¨ GIVES AWAY PERSONAL PROPERTY

4. What resources are available for someone exhibiting suicidal intentions

AGENCIES FOR HELP

  • ¨ NATIONAL POLICE SUICIDE FOUNDATION
  • ¨ DEPARTMENT OF MENTAL HEALTH
  • ¨ CRITICAL INCIDENT DEBRIEFING TEAMS (CISD)
  • ¨ VA HOSPITAL; (IF HE OR SHE IS A VETERAN)
  • ¨ CRISIS CHAPLAINS

5. What should/can friends and family members do to help someone who is feeling so despondent

SEEK TRAINED PEOPLE TO HELP, YOU MAY SAY THE WRONG THING

  • ¨ SHOW THEM LOVE DO NOT CONDEMN THEM
  • ¨ IF YOU ARE NOT TRAINED NEVER ATTEMPT TO HANDLE IT YOUR SELF, SEEK PEOPLE WHO ARE TRAINED
  • ¨ AND NEVER CALL THEIR EMPLOYER ABOUT THEM, THIS WILL MAKE THEM FOLLOW-THROUGH WITH THE SUICIDE

The opinions in this post are solely those of the author. To contribute to ‘Professional Perspective’ contact Michele.

 
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