Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Silent Epidemic

Every 14.2 minutes someone in the United States dies by suicide.
That means that by the time you're done perusing the Web right now, there is a strong likelihood that someone will have killed themselves.
The sad truth and something that people in Law Enforcement are anathema to admit is that suicide rates for police officers are higher than that of the general population.
"These folks are taught to suppress their emotions and soldier forward," says Elizabeth Dansie, a psychologist who works with California police agencies in the aftermath of suicides. "It's very difficult for them to admit they need help."
Late last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that an on-duty NYPD Officer committed suicide in Queens. Of course, my husband heard about this well before the Wall Street Journal reported it; the police grapevine, albeit thorny, is strong and alive and well. At first, I couldn't believe it, as the officer was still a newbie, and he apparently was on the phone with his girlfriend, hung up with her, put a gun in his mouth while responding to a call for a car burglary...and it just didn't make any sense.
Suicide rarely makes sense to the living; those who are left behind are usually left to pick up the scattered pieces, the shattered dreams...often without the help and understanding of those around them.
My life was first directly touched by suicide in 2005. My lovable cousin committed suicide, leaving behind a wife and three beautiful children, and my whole world was rocked. Although I had known others who knew someone whose life had been altered by suicide, I had not lived through the suicide of someone close to me up until that point. It was incredibly hard for me; I can still vividly recall searching my memory bank, trying desperately to remember every word of our last interaction. Should I have known? How could I not have known that someone in my life was that desperate and desolate? I suffered through crying jags that lasted for weeks, and months after his demise, I still felt an intense need to commemorate his life.
As for this NYPD Officer, I have no less than a thousand questions...the first being, how the hell did he make it through the psychological testing? Will the NYPD send the usual contingency to his burial? How come I heard about this first through alternative news sources, and not the regular NYC suspects, like the Times, the Daily News, or the Post? What about his family?
Most suicides pose more questions than answers. It is the nature of the act; the lack of closure, the agony of the living. My wish is for less suicide in today's world; for cops and civilians alike.

I got the suicide statistics from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
You can check it out at:

1 comment:

  1. Suicide is a tough topic for people to talk about. A lot of times people (not even family) do not even know that someone is troubled. They just one day up and leave the family searching for what if's and why's. My dad lost his dad to suicide as a child and my mom recently lost a cousin to it. In both cases no one even knew they were even depressed. Thank you for sharing this story.


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