The suicide rate among correctional officers is significantly higher than other occupations and twice as high as police officers. Yet, the topic of suicide and the stressors contributing to suicide are rarely discussed. AMU professor Michael Pittaro recently presented to correctional representatives from 14 southern states about suicide awareness and the need for a change in leadership style.
Having been in law enforcement for many years, I have seen fellow police officers struggle with stress, financial problems, family life-changing events, time management issues, PTSD, and several other issues that affect their mental health. Whether you are a coworker or family member, we all must recognize the warning signs or symptoms of depression and distress and then help those who are impacted. In recognition of May as Mental Health Month, read more about common signs and symptoms of someone who may have a mental health condition.
Being a police officer has never been easy, but recent events have made it even more difficult to be an officer. Incidents like Ferguson and Baltimore have put officers and agencies under severe public scrutiny. These highly publicized events have served as a wake-up call for many agencies to enhance officer training, improve policies and procedures, and revitalize community relations.
The public cannot let these events overshadow the hard work, dedication, and sacrifice made by our nation’s law enforcement officers. May 10-16 is National Police Week 2015, a time to show gratitude for those officers who died on the job. It is also a time to thank current officers who continue to dedicate their lives to protecting our communities.
Working in a 911 call center is stressful. The pace is nonstop and it can be overwhelming even for seasoned and resilient emergency dispatchers. Local and state governments have a responsibility to make sure that professional mental healthcare providers are available to serve not only police officers, firefighters and paramedics, but also 911 call takers and emergency dispatchers.
Throughout my 20-year career in corrections, I learned about the various causes of and responses to prisoner suicides, but very little (if any) attention was paid to the issue of correctional officer suicides. However, research finds that corrections officers have a suicide rate that is twice as high as the rate of police officers and the general population. Agencies must equip their EAPs to better address mental health and trauma as well as educate officers (and their families!) about indicators of suicide in officers.
By Leischen Stelter, editor of In Public Safety
The holiday season can be a joyous time spent celebrating with family and loved ones and reflecting on another year gone by. But, for many people, the holidays can be extremely difficult. For those struggling with mental health issues or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the holidays can evoke an array of unpleasant emotions.
By Mark Bond, professor of criminal justice at American Military University
Police culture still struggles with acknowledging the serious effects that long-term exposure to traumatic events has on an officer’s mental and physical health. These events can be harmful even for officers who have displayed resilience throughout their careers.