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What's being done to prevent police officer suicides?

Posted at 4:05 PM, Oct 10, 2019

New numbers show suicides among law enforcement officers are going up and that includes retired officers.

Blue H.E.L.P. , which tracks those trends, says the reality is that these numbers are only expected to increase as the year continues.

Experts say the daily stress of the job is a big factor.

“The horrific traffic crashes, homicides, child abuse, sexual abuse. this carries on day, after day, after day, and very, very few agencies are recognizing that that is an issue. Law enforcement officers are only human,” said Mark DiBona with Blue H.E.L.P. “It affects us like it affects anybody else.”

New Jersey is starting a program to try and stop the troubling trend.

Thursday, a group of 1,400 officers received basic training to be “resiliency program officers.” The RPOs will be a resource for fellow officers who may not feel comfortable talking to someone within their agency.

Blue H.E.L.P. says a number of agencies are also taking their own steps to help, like providing access to peer support units and mental health professionals.

Officials say it’s especially important for officers to watch out for one another. They’re usually the first ones who spot changes in fellow officers.

“When you work with somebody side by side, day after day, you get to know their mannerisms and you get to know them,” said DiBona. “And it's up to you also to address this problem. And we have to work as a team with the administration, and with the troops on the ground.”

Officers going into retirement are also committing suicide. Experts say this has to do with losing their identity after being in law enforcement for so many years.

Blue H.E.L.P. says agencies should also help officers debrief before they leave the job.