Suicide. It’s a word that can suck the air out of the room. For loved ones left behind, a death by suicide holds many ‘what ifs,’ chief among them whether it could have been prevented.
Often, the hardest things to talk about are also the most urgent. LEAP commemorates National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month by recognizing those we’ve lost, their grieving loved ones, and — critically — the need for open dialogue and programs that offer support to those who are struggling.
We are in the midst of an epidemic of law enforcement officer suicides: suicide claims more officers’ lives than violence in the line of duty. In response, top law enforcement across the nation are encouraging officers to speak out, and this July, the Supporting and Treating Officers in Crisis (STOIC) Act, was signed into law. The bill authorizes up to $7.5 million in grant funding a year for police suicide prevention efforts, mental health screenings, and training to identify officers at risk.
There’s more work to be done. Law enforcement is a profound responsibility. It can bring profound stress, trauma, and pain. We need to do everything in our power to ensure that officers feel able to ask for help when they need it, and that there are systems in place to fully address those needs. For the good of our officers, their families, and our communities, we need to be sure that those charged with keeping us safe are able to do the same for themselves.
Major Neill Franklin (Ret.)
Executive Director, Law Enforcement Action Partnership
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