Breaking the Stigma of Law Enforcement Suicide

Breaking the Stigma of Law Enforcement Suicide

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The Bureau of Justice Assistance Launches New Initiative to Save Law Enforcement Lives

The U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) has partnered with the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) to launch a groundbreaking new initiative to raise awareness of the systemic barriers to mental health and prevent deaths by suicide among law enforcement officers. The National Consortium on Preventing Law Enforcement Suicide (the Consortium) will convene for the first time on Tuesday, April 30, 2019, under BJA’s newly established National Officer Safety Initiatives Program.

More law enforcement officers die by suicide than in the line of duty each year. Shame and stigma can become significant barriers that may prevent officers from confronting and addressing their mental health needs and seeking help, and agencies often struggle with the best approach to provide appropriate and effective resources and support. As Police Week (May 12-18) approaches and the law enforcement community and citizens come together to honor the lives of officers lost in the line of duty, BJA and IACP continue their commitment to bring officer safety and wellness to the forefront and combat the challenges that take officers away from their communities too soon.

“Law enforcement officers commit their lives to protecting and serving their communities and their agencies,” said BJA Director Jon Adler. “It is our duty to protect and serve them. The Consortium is stepping forward to corral the resources needed to make sure that those suffering today can receive the services, resources, and support necessary to make them well tomorrow. Our mantra is, 'Smash stigmas, save lives!’”

The Consortium brings together law enforcement leaders, mental health providers, and researchers to break the silence around officer mental health and suicide and confront these issues head on. Over the next 18 months, the Consortium will leverage the collective knowledge and expertise of law enforcement officers and families, mental health and suicide prevention service providers, and researchers to produce a comprehensive report and tools with recommendations on consistent definitions and terminology relating to officer suicide; policy and procedure updates; research and data collection improvements; effective messaging strategies; and promising practices in suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention. The Consortium will also work toward standing up the first national database to accurately collect law enforcement suicide data and connect officers in need with credible, confidential treatment and resources.

BJA’s National Officer Safety Initiatives Program also includes the newly established Law Enforcement Suicide Prevention Training Program, which will collaborate with the Consortium and BJA to further this critical work. This program, implemented by the Institute for Intergovernmental Research (IIR), will develop and deliver a national training and technical assistance program focused on increasing awareness and prevention of law enforcement suicide. Training will be delivered to state, local, and tribal line officers, executives, and middle management at no cost to them and will include both in-person and online sessions.

To learn more about the NOSI Program or the National Consortium on Preventing Law Enforcement Suicide, please visit https://www.bja.gov/national-officer-safety-initiatives/index.html and https://www.theiacp.org/resources/document/law-enforcement-suicide-prevention-and-awareness

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