The police have to be tough in order to cope with the nature of their work. Their daily activities involve dealing with the criminal offenders and handling weapons as a way of enforcing the law. However, there are factors associated with skills in policing that adversely affect the police officers to the point of taking their own lives. For instance, incidents that are way outside of the range of the normal occurrences. It seeks to remind us that the police are human beings and are venerable to stress and trauma in the course of their tough job. Therefore, in law enforcement, there are many causes for the suicides but solutions to the problem exist.
According to Officer Michael (2010) in his presentation, police officers are faced with many critical situations in their line of work that cause stress, trauma and depression leading to suicide. The most sudden and unexpected incidents cause serious effects. Some of them include witnessing death or mutilation, shootings, dealing with abused or maltreated children and attending to disasters. Also, stress associated with policing result in depressions. They include the killing of a fellow officer or killing someone in the line of duty, Physical attack or high-speed chases, Use of force or lack of departmental support and an incompatible partner among others. All these result in posttraumatic stress disorders (PSTD) due to the prolonged reaction and persistent re-experiencing of the critical incidents now and then. However, a research by Michael and Nicole (2006) disagrees. They say that the difference in the 18.1 suicide rate of the law enforcement and the 11.4 in the general public can be explained by the age, gender and race of the person who enters the field of law enforcement.
However, possible solutions exist. First, in the workplace, there should be a systematic assessment of the psychology of the officer before and throughout the career. Second, there should be tracking of officers who are at a high risk, for example, those with marital problems and substance abuse. Then, access to firearms to those officers should be reduced since 95% of the suicides are by firearms. The policies and procedures should be developed to mitigate potential problems (Michael, 2010). Also, the competencies of the officer regarding work and life should be built. Finally, the sense of resilience of the officers has to be enhanced.
Additionally, in the police academy, the training should involve Inoculation of possible future psychological crisis that would lead to suicide. They should also be taught the stress awareness and coping skills that will assist them in identifying stress, proper nutrition, the value of physical exercise and good communication skills. Also, they should be encouraged to talk to their peers. Finally, a professional network of health workers that are familiar with police problems should be set up.
Lastly, family involvement will help thwart the suicide. Spouses and other members of the family are the best in picking up the different clues that an officer is at risk of committing suicide. There should be seminars and workshops to the families of the police officers. It will enable them to be appropriately educated on the nature of work thus they can be able to recognize a potential suicide.
In conclusion, despite the tough things that a police officer faces, everyone has a role to play to prevent the occurrence of the suicide among the officers. The officers should acquire skills to help them cope with stress.
Police Officer Suicide: Frequency and officer profiles. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.policeone.com/health-fitness/articles/137133-Police-Officer-Suicide-Frequency-and-officer-profiles/
Suicide and Law Enforcement: Impact on Society and the Family (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.michaeljalicea.com/upload/Suicide%20and%20Law%20Enforcement.pdf
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