A Dallas police officer died by suicide earlier this week, the second officer to do so this month, according to the Dallas Police Department.
Police Chief Eddie Garcia sent out an email on Wednesday notifying department members about the death of Officer John Kipp, a 16-year veteran of the force who worked in the open records unit.
“This is another heartbreaking loss for our DPD family,” said Garcia in the email, according to The Dallas Morning News. “As your Chief, I’m asking you to pause, for Officer Kipp, his loved ones, and also to check in with yourself.”
Chief Garcia also included contact information for mental health specialists and suicide prevention in the email.
Three weeks ago, DPD Officer Matthew Bacon, part of the U.S. North Texas Fugitive Task Force, took his own life after he was involved in the shooting death of a murder suspect, as reported by The Dallas Express. Bacon had been a member of the Dallas police force for 18 years.
The National Library of Medicine documented in 2012 that the suicide rate among police officers nationwide was higher than among the general population. The study documented an annual suicide rate of 18.1 per 100,000 for law enforcement, while the rate for the general population was 11.4 per 100,000.
More recently, a 2020 study published in Policing: An International Journal found that police officers are 54% more likely to die by suicide compared to the civilian population, with factors such as department size, demographics, traumatic events, exposures to firearms, and more playing a role.
Last year, 16 law enforcement officers in Texas died by suicide.
Rates of post-traumatic stress disorder and depression among police officers are five times higher than among the general population, the Ruderman Family Foundation reported.
A number of organizations have stepped up to help law enforcement officers learn to cope with the stresses and trauma that often accompany the job.
The Dallas Police Department unveiled a new initiative last year aimed at improving officers’ mental wellness. The services include phone “check-ins” for officers who have been involved in traumatic incidents, a monthly newsletter on mental health resources, surveys, training, and an eight-member full-time wellness unit.
Last year, the state launched the Texas Law Enforcement Peer Network, an organization that pairs officers in need with volunteer peers who are trained to address mental health problems.
The national non-profit organization Blue HELP works to bring awareness to suicide and mental health issues within the law enforcement community.
Its mission is to “reduce mental health stigma through education, advocate for benefits for those suffering from post-traumatic stress, acknowledge the service and sacrifice of law enforcement officers we lost to suicide, and support families after a suicide,” according to its website.
“Suicide should be pursued as relentlessly as any other cop killer; together, publicly and, with unabating courage,” said Karen Solomon, co-founder of Blue HELP.
National Law Enforcement Suicide Awareness Day is observed annually on September 26.