Law Enforcement SuicideTactics for Prevention and Intervention
Making Strides to Save Lives.
The Tragedy of Suicide.Death rarely allows for elegant departures and tidy farewells. It comes between people randomly. Someone is left with the anguish of having been left unilaterally and unfairly. The leaving is not so bad when there is an agreed understanding beforehand, when there is time and space for a goodbye. Its when there is no goodbye, or worse, a bad goodbye, that death becomes hateful, leaving one with a feeling of incompletion and irresolution. ~ Alla Bozarth-Campbell, Ph.D. ~
SuicideA permanent solution to a temporary situation..The Forever Decision
Officers of the law are twice as likely to put a gun to their heads as be killed by someone else, and yet they are trained as if exactly the opposite were true.[Turvey]
Ralph SlovenkoApproximately 80 percent of suicides have communicated their intent...From the forward of Dr. John Violantis book, Police Suicide;Epidemic in Blue
Paul Quinnett, Ph.D.Executive Director QPR InstituteNow that we know suicide is preventable, the race is between education and tragedy.
The Experts SpeakAlthough suicide is always complex and multifactorial, most experts feel the majority of suicides remain preventable. Dr. Paul Quinnett, FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin
The Real TruthNot a very pretty picture but the facts are:Police officers are 8 times more likely to die from suicide than homicide. 3 times more likely to die from suicide than from accidental causes.What is the true survival skill we seem to be missing?
What we know. and dont knowUnited States Law Enforcement Personnel as of October 2000708,000 Full Time Sworn Officers (State, County, and City) U.S. Department of JusticeBureau of Justice Statistics Oct. 2002
John Violanti, Ph.D. and The L.A. County Sheriffs DepartmentDr. Violanti Through data and research at the University of Buffalo feels the rate for law enforcement is 17-21 per 100,000Los Angeles County Sheriff puts the L.E. rate at 18 per 100,000
At 700,000 + Sworn Law Enforcement OfficersAt 18 per 100,000 the yearly total would be 126 to 130 law enforcement suicides per yearAt 21 per 100,000 the total would be 147
The Magnitude of the ProblemNYPD (1985-98) Suicides =87, LODD=36 Compared to the National Rate: +29.1%Chicago PD (1990-98) Suicides =22 LODD=12 Compared to the National Rate: + 50.9%FBI (1993-98) Suicides =18, LODD= 4 Compared to the National Rate: + 116.6%LAPD (1990-98) Suicides =20, LODD=11 Compared to National Rate: + 72.5%
Ranked Factors in Law Enforcement suicide Responses by NYPD SurveyDepressionRelationship conflicts or personal lossesEasy access to firearmsDrug and alcohol abuseFinancial difficultyInternal investigations
A Word About DepressionThe #1 cause of completed suicideThe common cold of modern life.Has biological foundations - SerotoninVery highly treatable if detected and acknowledgedWishing to be dead is a frequent symptom of untreated depression
A word about alcoholAlcohol dissolves the wall of resistance that often keeps suicidal individuals alive.Alcohol is found in the blood of most completed suicides whether or not they were problem drinkers.ALCOHOL MAKES DEPRESSION WORSE!
The Myths of SuicideHappens without warningLow Risk after mood improvementOnce suicidal, always suicidalIs intent on dyingIts so rare, they wont do itRuns in the familyNo note not a suicide
Dont ignore these behaviors May be more aggressive when handling serious calls or situations risk taking behaviorCries oftenSeems more agitated or nervousLetters or communications to close friends outlining wishes if, Something happens to me. Seems to lose their love of the profession / becomes disillusionedGiving away possessionsHas tried to commit suicide before
Verbal CluesI wish I were deadIm going to kill myselfI cant take the way I feel any longer Im really getting tired of lifeThere is no meaning for anything anymoreI just cant take the painYoud be better off without meNobody needs me anymore
Dos of InterventionRemain Calm Dont seem shockedHelp define the problemRephrase thoughtsFocus on central issueStay closeEmphasize the temporary nature of the problemLISTEN***LISTEN***LISTEN
Important QuestionsHave you been thinking of killing yourself?How would you do it? Do you have the means available?Has anyone in your family committed suicide?What are the odds you will kill yourself?What has been keeping you alive so far?What does the future hold for you?
The Do Nots of Intervention DONT OVERLOOK THE SIGNS !Dont sound shockedDont offer empty promisesNever debate moralityNever leave the person aloneDont remain the only person helping
Reach Out with HopeVIDEO
Law Enforcement Suicide Prevention and Intervention with the QPR Model
Question the meaning of suicidal communication.Persuade the person to get help.Refer to competent counseling.
QPR Introduction (CD)
QPRAsk a question..Save a life!
QPRQPR is not intended to be a form of counseling or treatment.
QPR is intended to offer hope through positive action.
QPR Suicide Myths and FactsMythNo one can stop a suicide, it isinevitable.FactThe majority of people in crisis who get the help they need will never be suicidal again.
QPR - Suicide Myths and factsMythConfronting a person about suicide will only make them angry and increase the risk of suicideFactAsking someone directly about suicidal intent lowers anxiety, opens up communications, and lowers the risk of an impulsive act.
QPR - Myths and FactsMythOnly Experts can prevent suicide
FactSuicide prevention is everybodys business and anyone, with training, can prevent the tragedy of suicide.
QPR Myths and FactsMythSuicidal people keep their plans to themselves
FactMost suicidal people communicate their intent to someone within one week of completing suicide
QPR Myths and FactsMythThose who talk about suicide just wont do it.
FactThose who talk about suicide may try or even complete an act of self destruction.
QPR Myths and FactsMythOnce a person decides to complete suicide, there is nothing anyone can do to stop them.
FactSuicide is viewed as the most preventable form of death and almost any positive action may save a life.
Suicide Warning SignsThe more clues and signs observed, the greater the risk. Take all signs seriously.
Direct Verbal CluesIve decided to kill myself.I wish I were dead.Im going to commit suicide.Im going to end it all.If (such and such) doesnt happen Im going to kill myself
Indirect or Coded CluesIm so tired of life I just cant go on.My family would be better off without me.Who cares if Im dead anyway.I just want out.I wont be around much longer.Pretty soon you wont have to worry about me.
QPR.Behavioral CluesAny previous suicide attemptStockpiling pillsCo-occuring depression, moodiness, hopelessnessPutting personal affairs in orderGiving away prized possessionsSudden interest or disinterest in religionDrug or alcohol abuse or relapse after period of recovery
Situational CluesBeing terminated or an IA investigationA recent unwanted moveLoss of any major relationship (red flag)Death of a close loved one or cherished friend especially if by suicideDiagnosis of a serious or terminal illnessSudden unexpected loss of freedom / fear of punishmentAnticipated loss of financial security
Situational Clues, cont.Loss of a cherished therapist or counselor.A fear of becoming a burden to others.
Tips for asking the suicide questionIf in doubt, dont wait, ask the question.If the person is reluctant, be persistentFind a private setting for your talkAllow the person to talk freelyGive yourself plenty of timeKnow what resources you have. QPR Card, phone numbers, counselors names and numbers, etc.
REMEMBER..HOW YOU ASK THE QUESTION IS LESS IMPORTANT THAN THAT YOU ASK.
How to Ask the Suicide Question-Less Direct Approach-Have you been unhappy lately? Have you been very unhappy lately? Have you been so unhappy lately that youve been thinking of ending your life?Do you ever wish you could go to sleep and never wake up?
The Suicide Question-Direct Approach-You know, when people are as upset as you seem to be, they sometimes wish they were dead. Im wondering if you feel that way too?You look pretty miserable. Have you been thinking of killing yourself ?Are you thinking about killing yourself ?(If you cant ask the question, find someone who can)
P = PersuadeHow to persuade someone to stay aliveListen to the problem with your full attention.Remember, suicide is not the problem, only the solution to a perceived insoluble problem.Do not rush judgment.Offer hope in any form.
P = PersuadeThen Ask:Will you go with me to get help ?Will you let me help you get help?Were in this together, lets get you back on trackYOUR WILLINGNESS TO LISTEN AND HELP CAN REKINDLE HOPE AND MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE!!
R = ReferSuicidal people sometimes feel they cant be helped so you may have to do more.The best referral involves taking the person to immediate help.
RememberSince almost all efforts to persuade someone to live instead of attempt suicide will be met with agreement and relief, dont hesitate to get involved or take the lead.
Very Important!!In a suicide intervention, you will use your com