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The Street Survival Newsline
with Calibre Press

Police Suicide: A Special Newsline Series - Part 2

Part 2: What we know

Editor's note: This special series ran previously in the Street Survival Newsline but the importance of the information contained in it remains extremely timely and relevant.

Read Part 1 Here

The Street Survival Newsline continues its coverage of the conference, "Police Suicide: An Unnecessary Means to an End," sponsored in Largo, MD, by the Center for Criminal Justice Studies:
How's this for a double irony?

1. Most people, including cops, who commit suicide don't kill themselves because they want to be dead.

2. In most cases, the underlying emotional, personal or relationship problems that seem so hopeless that they motivate the suicide are, in fact, fully treatable.

"It seems contradictory, but what is sought is not necessarily an end of life," says Conference panelist Dr. David Jobes, a suicide expert and associate professor of psychology at The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. "The person is trying to escape unbearable pain, and that's different from wanting to die.
"The vast majority have a diagnosable mental disorder - most commonly, depression or alcohol/drug abuse - and this is certainly true of police officers. PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) is often a factor. That does not mean they're crazy, but they do have significant problems.
"Suicidal crises are often transient. If you can get help, you can go on with your life. Reaching out for help is central."
The underlying problems can usually "respond to intervention," meaning they can be alleviated via professional therapy or medication. But officers often don't seek help because they feel caught in a "double bind": they believe that professionally they "can't be weak or show any kind of struggle," yet they feel they can't approach a department shrink for help in coping with inner turmoil because that therapist's "confidentiality will only go so far." The problem, Jobes says, becomes "how to get help without sacrificing your career." And the frustration in feeling that there is no answer to that dilemma may result in suicide.
Although law enforcement ranks within the top 2-3 professions for suicide, the general statistics show that "cops are not the only people who aren't working well with this subject," Jobes says.

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