Serve and Protect Yourself
For the dedicated men and women who selflessly safeguard our communities, the emotional toll they face is not always visible. Nationally, first responder suicides now outnumber line-of-duty deaths and in 2018 alone America saw a 13% increase in police officer suicides.
In a report commissioned by the Ruderman Family Foundation examining the behavioral health needs of first responders, an unfortunate and disproportionate trend can be seen. Police officers are five times more likely to experience PTSD and depression than the civilian population. Police officers, on average, witness 188 critical accidents during their career. That coupled with the unique on the job stressors and consistent exposure to secondary trauma takes can take a heavy toll.
In Baltimore County, our dedicated men and women are no stranger to this rising behavioral health crisis. Just last year, the statistic hit home when we lost one of our own, a 21-year veteran, to suicide. Oftentimes the stigma associated with behavioral health issues keeps many officers from seeking the help they need. As the ones responsible for supporting others during a crisis, it can be hard to admit that you too need support. Many officers hesitate to come forward with their experience due to feelings of shame or fear. Yet despite the statistics, less than 10% of departments across the country offer suicide prevention programs and many more lack much needed behavioral health resources.
The FOP Lodge #4 recognizes the growing issue of police suicides as an epidemic and are determined to combat the issue. By providing a safe and supportive space to our officers to access resources we are challenging stigma head on and sending a message to our members that it’s okay to seek help. As an organization, we believe in normalizing “it’s okay to not be okay”.
September is National Suicide Awareness Month and as such we encourage all members to learn more about the warning signs and risk of suicide. FOP Lodge #4 reminds you that taking care of yourself means taking care of your whole self. If you or someone you need help, know that resources are available and that you do have options.
If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) to speak to a trained counselor. The free lifeline is always open, available to everyone and is confidential. .
- Text BLUE to 741741 to connect you with free, 24/7 confidential Crisis Text Line services.
- The National Alliance for Mental health has a website dedicated to Law Enforcement Officers. Learn more: https://www.nami.org/find-support/law-enforcement-officers
- The Suicide Prevention Resource Center has a website dedicated to Law Enforcement Officers. Learn more: https://www.sprc.org/settings/law-enforcement
- 1st Help is a searchable database dedicated to finding emotional, financial, and spiritual assistance for first responders: http://1sthelp.net/
2nd Vice President