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Acknowledging The Toll That Suicide Takes On Law Enforcement

David Bratton

26 September 2021   •   4 minute read

A purple and turquoise ribbon on a white background. The ribbon is framed by blue lines, and there is a small Mark43 logo (blue outline of a triangular shield next to the words Mark43 in black) in the bottom right corner.

September 26 is National Law Enforcement Suicide Awareness Day. Mark43 joins our public safety partners to acknowledge the toll that suicide takes on law enforcement. Suicide is a silent killer, but a devastating one. In 2019, law enforcement officers had a 475 percent greater chance of dying by suicide than by gunfire from another person1. Numerous studies have shown that deaths by suicide outnumber all other line of duty deaths.

Today, members of law enforcement are under historic levels of stress. Sworn law enforcement professionals in 2021 have had to deal with a pandemic, a rise in demonstrations and public disorder, and an emerging domestic terror threat. Veterans are leaving, and fewer people are willing to sign on to replace them, meaning those still serving are being asked to do even more. We expect law enforcement to put their lives on the line daily for all of us, and in turn it is our collective responsibility to care for them as human beings.    

The key to reducing the number of law enforcement suicides is raising awareness. It is a real problem that afflicts many first responders. Yet, those in distress may be reluctant to seek treatment. Raising awareness of this issue is an important way to encourage law enforcement to ask for help. It lets those in trouble know that asking for help is not a sign of weakness. This is a mental health issue and is every bit as debilitating as a physical ailment. More importantly, it lets them know that they are not alone. Help is there if they need it. 

If you are in distress, there are resources available. If you are a partner or colleague or loved one of a law enforcement professional who may be in distress, check in with them. Ask if they are okay. 

You are never alone, and help is available.

Below is a list of resources where you, a partner, colleague, or loved one can go for help.

See resources for United States, Australia, Canada, or U.K.

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1 Officer Wellness in the 21st Century in Associate: The Magazine of the FBI National Academy Associates Vol. 22 No. 2

United States Resources

Critical Incident Stress Foundation, Inc. 

The International Critical Incident Stress Foundation provides leadership, education, training, consultation, and support services in comprehensive crisis intervention and disaster behavioral health services to the emergency response professions, other organizations, and communities worldwide. 

Emergency hotline number: 410-313-2473
Find more information at icisf.org

COPLINE

This confidential, 24-hour international hotline is answered by trained, retired law enforcement officers who can provide access to continuous critical clinical support. 

Emergency hotline number: 1-800-COPLINE (267-5463) 

Find more information at copline.org

First Responder Support Network 

The First Responder Support Network provides first responders and their families tools to reduce personal and family stress, encourage appropriate career decisions, and reduce the effects of traumatic incident stress on an individual’s life. 

Non-emergency information number: 415-721-9789 

Find more information at: frsn.org

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals. 

Emergency hotline number: 800-273-TALK (8255)

Emergency online chat: suicidepreventionlifeline.org/talk-to-someone-now

Find more information at suicidepreventionlifeline.org 

Safe Call Now 

Safe Call Now is a confidential, comprehensive, 24-hour crisis referral service for all public safety employees, all emergency services personnel, and their family members nationwide. 

Emergency hotline number: 206-459-3020 

Find more information at safecallnowusa.org 

SAMHSA’s National Helpline

SAMHSA is a US Dept. of Public Health service that offers free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.

Emergency hotline number: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)

Find more information at samhsa.gov

Australia Resources

Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue works with the community to improve mental health and prevent suicide, so that all people in Australia can achieve their best possible mental health.

Emergency hotline number: 1300 224 636

Web chat: beyondblue.org.au/about-us/contact-us (Available 3:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m. AEST, daily)

Find more information at beyondblue.org.au

Bush Fire Support Service through Black Dog Institute

The Bush Fire Support Service provides free mental health support for Emergency Service Workers and their loved ones.

Take a free mental health assessment and access free sessions with clinicians at blackdoginstitute.org.au/bush-fire-support-service

Fortem Australia

Fortem Australia supports the mental health and wellbeing of first responders and their families – people who protect and care for our community.

Find more information at fortemaustralia.org.au

LifeLine

A confidential telephone crisis support service available to anyone in Australia 24/7 from a landline, payphone, or mobile.  

Emergency hotline number: 13 11 14

Find more information at lifelinemacarthur.org.au/crisis-support

Canada Resources

Badge of Life Canada

A national non-profit volunteer organization supporting police & corrections personnel dealing with psychological injuries suffered in the line of duty.

Find resources specific to your province at: badgeoflifecanada.org/crisis-resources

Boots on the Ground

Boots On The Ground is an anonymous helpline providing confidential and anonymous peer support to First Responders, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is a charitable organization completely run and staffed by volunteers.

Emergency hotline number: 1-833-677-BOOT

Find more information at bootsontheground.ca

Crisis Services Canada

Crisis Services Canada (CSC) is a national network of existing distress, crisis and suicide prevention line services.

Emergency hotline number: 1-833-456-4566 

Find more information at crisisservicescanada.ca 

PSPNET

As part of the Government of Canada’s National Action Plan on Posttraumatic Stress Injuries, PSPNET is offering and evaluating Internet-delivered cognitive behaviour therapy, also known as ICBT, specifically tailored for current and former Public Safety Personnel (PSP), including border security agents, correctional workers, call centre operators/dispatchers, firefighters, paramedics, and police.

Find more information at pspnet.ca

United Kingdom Resources

Blue Light

Mind’s Blue Light programme is here to make sure that emergency responders have access to high quality mental health resources and training – and to help create an atmosphere in which it’s OK to focus on your wellbeing.

Find more information at mentalhealthatwork.org.uk/bluelight

Police Care UK

An independent charity for serving and veteran police officers and staff, volunteers, and their families who have suffered any physical or psychological harm as a result of policing.

Non-emergency referral: 0300-012-0030 (lines open 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday)

Emergency hotline text: Text BLUELIGHT to 85258

Find more information at policecare.org.uk/get-help

Shout

Shout 85258 is a free, confidential, anonymous text support service. You can text from wherever you are in the UK. If you are struggling to cope and need to talk, trained Shout Volunteers are here for you, day or night.

Non-emergency hotline: Text SHOUT to 85258

Find more information at giveusashout.org

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