More police officers die of suicide than are killed by gunfire and traffic accidents combined. It’s a problem that cries out for answers and remedies, but people are reluctant to admit it exists. At least 140 men and women in law enforcement die by suicide each year, and they leave their loving families with children behind. 99.9 percent of these families have to go it alone without any emotional or financial support. Each time an officer puts on their uniform, it covers not only their skin, but their life. The public only sees the uniform and what they think it represents. Each uniform covers a different story that has created a unique personality with specific emotional needs. There is no test that can predict which officer’s burden will become too much or when that might happen. The reality for first responders is that they bring their personal baggage into their careers where it intermingles with the baggage created by their professions.
Blue H.E.L.P. is currently the only national organization that collects data on law enforcement suicide and offers support for families in the aftermath. Immediately after a suicide we offer comfort through an Honor Box; care packages sent to the families and the departments. These boxes are shipped with a personal condolence card from another family who has suffered the same loss. It’s our way of letting them know they are not alone.
Grief camps for children who have lost an officer for suicide are currently being planned, the first will be held in the Fall of 2019 in the Boston area. This is a signicant and unimaginable loss for these children and they need to learn coping skills and, bond with others who have been through the same loss.