In February, I read a news article that stopped me in my tracks.
The article, “Law Enforcement Officers and Trauma: The Next Public Health Crisis?” published in The Crime Report, stated that nearly one in four police officers have thoughts of suicide at some point in their lives.
One in four.
As the wife of an LEO who was medically retired due to PTSD following a 15 year career serving in an urban police department, I was forced to stop normalizing the signs my husband was experiencing and started having the difficult conversations.
Our officers today are found in life or death situations more frequently. Departments across the country are under-staffed, under-supported, and under-funded. It’s because of these situations officers today are running (literally!) from call to call, 16 hour shift to 16 hour shift, and their brains are being affected by the constant release of chemicals to help maintain their ability to serve and protect their communities to the best of their ability.
But what happens when our LEO comes home and only has a “couple of drinks” at night to fall asleep?
What happens when they say, “I have a lot on my mind” or simply, “I’m fine,” when asked if something is wrong?
We believe them. We trust them. They know what is best for them, right?
But as LEO spouses and partners, we need to stop normalizing these signs and vague remarks and realize there just might be something more to it!
We can help our LEOs handle the stigma of being “weak” among his or her fellow officers. We can advocate for trauma processing on a regular basis to assist officers before, during and after trauma to help them end the stigma of weakness and help them to embrace their humanity.
We can love, support and care for them.
We can provide for them.
We must pay attention...and we must do it now!
To learn how to identify the signs of law enforcement officers in distress, check out this article published by the American Military University.