“At 2:30 a.m., an officer got a call for domestic violence [case]. That officer was alone in the car and showed up alone, backup hadn’t yet arrived. And he had to cure the circumstance of that domestic violence [case], and as a result of that, he walked in and saw a woman on the floor- with a child- battered, and how is that officer now?”Chairman of the Community Police Relations Foundation, Al Eskanzy
He says this story is not a one-off event, “These officers see trauma every day.”
The FBI estimated that 30 percent of first responders develop behavioral health conditions, including but not limited to depression, relationship problems, burnout, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Law Enforcement Suicide Data Collection gathered information across 22 agencies nationwide to understand why current law enforcement officers die by suicide.
“Look, there has been a lot of hate coming out, and a lot of hate being broadcast[ed], a lot of hate being heard. So the morale of law enforcement has really taken a hard hit,” says Eskanzy.
To take control of their mental health they can take advantage of programs like Struggle Well. A free prevention-focused program based on Post-Traumatic Growth to help first responders and the military, funded by the Community Police Relations Foundation (CPRF).
He said officers may not want to tell their partner or chief they’re struggling with their mental health because there may be a promotion, or they don’t want their partner to question if they are fit for their job.
Struggle Well offers various workshops to help officers combat their mental health disabilities.
Eskanzy said another way to prevent suicides is by showing community support.
He hopes people “show your understanding and humanity that these are people in your community who became law enforcement officers, you know why? So, when you call them at 2:30 a.m. in the morning they just respond. They don’t you, your race, creed, color, sexual orientation, political view- they respond to help. That’s a character that few of us have.”
Other support groups for officers also include:
CISM/Peer Support Teams are trained to provide law enforcement officers and their families with 24/7 confidential support for critical incident stress management across the State of Louisiana upon request.
CISM covers all regions of Louisiana. If you or your family need help contact their NWLA contact.