Suicide a Leading Cause of Police Deaths


Police officers face incredible stressors that can lead to suicide. | Image by Pixabay.

On December 3, Garland police confirmed that Lieutenant Chris Carker, a 16-year veteran police officer of the Garland Police Department, took his own life.

More police officers die by their own hands than are killed in the line of duty, according to the International Journal of Emergency Mental Health.

Some warning signs that someone may want or plan to take their own life include talking about feeling empty or hopeless or having no reason to live, as well as talking about feeling trapped or feeling that there are no solutions.

“When you look at suicides nationally, it’s actually one of the leading causes of death in law enforcement,” said Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia, speaking to The Dallas Express.

“It’s an incredible anomaly that in this profession why it occurs — and it does occur — is because of all the stressors that oftentimes these men and women face on a day-to-day basis,” Garcia told The Dallas Express.

“There are some days when these men and women will see more than any non-sworn individual will see in their entire life,” the chief added soberly.

It is a subject that is rarely talked about. Police officers can be shunned or even seen as unfit to do their jobs if they seek help for mental health issues.

“One of the things that I hear from police officers is that there’s still the stigma,” said Dawn Rachel Floran, a licensed professional counselor and owner of Lake Ray Hubbard Counseling, speaking to The Dallas Express.

“When there has been or is an issue with an officer being depressed or suicidal, it’s often ignored and kept within the department because they have the mentality that they’ll handle it,” she elaborated.

Floran recalled an instance when she heard that officers had been suicidal, yet they were not taken to the hospital.

Floran has a military background, with combat experience as a behavioral health specialist in the U.S. Army and U.S. Army National Guard. She counsels police officers, veterans, families, and couples about men’s issues, sexual concerns, and issues related to legal problems.

Floran’s clients come to her for help dealing with trauma, anxiety, relationships, connection disorders, mood disorders, and addiction, as well as many more mental health-related issues. She also helps some with learning life skills.

A nonprofit organization called Blue H.E.L.P. began collecting data on suicides among law enforcement officers in 2016.

The organization’s mission is to reduce the mental health stigma that law enforcement officers face through education and advocacy. Blue H.E.L.P. advocates for benefits for those suffering from post-traumatic stress and acknowledges the service and sacrifice of law enforcement officers lost to suicide.

“I’ve been a police officer now for 31 years,” Garcia told The Dallas Express. “When I started over 30 years ago, if I would have seen a traumatic incident and told my partner, my partner would have told me, ‘Dude, you need to suck it up and move on.'”

Garcia continued, “If I would have told the supervisor that I was having problems, that supervisor probably would have told me, ‘You know what, kid? Maybe this isn’t the right job for you.'”

“It takes time to change that culture for officers, for men and women to recognize and realize that it is okay if this job has caused mental stress,” Garcia explained.

The chief said he wanted them to know, “It’s okay for you to reach out and ask for help and that we will do everything we can to help you.”

To help police officers deal with PTSD and other mental health-related issues and challenge the stigma of mental health among law enforcement, Congress passed the Law Enforcement Suicide Data Collection Act on June 16, 2020. The law provides for the collection and study of data about suicides in law enforcement.

For more information and help, call or text the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 9-8-8.

The Lifeline provides 24-hour, confidential support to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. Call 911 in life-threatening situations.

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20 days ago

What is never discussed is the type of person who becomes an officer in the first place and how that relates to them potentially taking their own life down the road. I grew up around law enforcement, have had many friends who are sworn officers in TX and lost one of them in 2012 when he killed himself.