A few weeks ago, I went on a long walk.
I mean, a really long walk. 9.11 miles to be exact. But it got me thinking.
That week had marked a couple of important days to recognize. September 10th was World Suicide Prevention Day and September 11th was Patriot’s Day.
Sadly, the days leading up to the 10th, I saw a couple of stories of law enforcement officers who died by suicide.
When I hear of these things, I have feelings of sadness and anger and frustration. Obviously, these people are in a place where they feel there is no hope or no other choice.
But with all of the awareness, and just seeing the numbers year after year, I wonder if they knew there are people wanting to help.
I’ve heard it said many times, “I would rather get a call in the middle of the night to come help than go to your funeral.”
A few years before I retired my department finally started a peer resource group. It was mainly focused on if there was an officer involved shooting. I remember thinking, “I’m not going to those guys/girls with my troubles, they would never let me hear the end of it. And they would blab it all over the PD.”
But as time went by, (and unfortunately, we did have a few OIS) I remember seeing the Peer support team with the officers, but I don’t ever remember hearing any rumors or trash talking from anyone about the incident or how the officers were handling it.
I guess I didn’t give the team enough credit for showing compassion toward each other when it really mattered.
Oh guaranteed if you launch your patrol car into an irrigation canal during a pursuit, you will never hear the end of it! (Believe me, NEVER!) But that is all in good fun. And sometimes, you gotta just laugh.
So I guess my thoughts and point to all this is that we as first responders have got to reach out, both ways. As someone who needs help and as someone who sees others needing help.
We should also be doing healthy check-ups. Ask questions over coffee or lunch. Be willing to follow up and spend time on your days off checking in or doing healthy things together.
We see the numbers of police officer suicides are down for the first part of 2020 compared to 2019. The numbers on Veterans are coming down also. That’s good!
We still have work to do.
So I’m challenging all of you to do your part, however small, to help keep these numbers going down.
If you need help, reach out.
Remember, even ONE is too many.
Retired Officer Shawn R. Cavin