MayJune Associate Magazine.2018.FINAL

M AY 2 0 1 8 J U N E

TRAINING TO PREVENT POLICE SUICIDE : A CONTINUUM VIEW Mary VanHaute While no one would disagree on the value of educating officers in self- care, the warning signs of suicide, and seeking appropriate help, many disagree on the logistics for such education. Leaders within the law en- forcement community may want to provide suicide prevention train- ing; however, with mandatory training demands and limited resources, it becomes a low priority. H ere is an analysis of some viewpoints on the subject in a continuum format. Recommenda- tions for implementing suicide prevention with minimal impact on training resources or funds conclude each analysis. Gathering data on the effectiveness of a suicide prevention training program is a daunting task. It is not easy to measure what didn’t happen. Because data on the number of officers who died by suicide is nebulous and not gathered in the same manner as line-of-duty death, there is no baseline standard of measurement. Thus, measuring a reduction in death is also not easy. This concept may lead to the viewpoint that suicide prevention training is not a law enforcement issue, and leadership may rely on initiatives and programs outside the department presuming officers are receiving the information as part of the community at large. This is a big assumption and does not consider that programming for the general public may be ineffective for law enforcement. On the other side of the spectrum is the thought that the root cause of police suicide comes from the endemic risk factors of the job, and suicide prevention awareness and training should be developed by officers for officers. In this line of thinking, the developers of the training may be unaware of existing research and data or become siloed in their thought process. A customized program can be beneficial, but it could lack flexibility, transferability, sustainability, and/or credibility regarding its effectiveness. OFFICER SAFETY AND WELLNESS The Executive Board of the FBI National Academy Associates is dedicated to furthering the conversation on officer safety and wellness issues that impact the law enforcement profession. The Associates Magazine highlights challenges that are inherent to the profession and present solutions to those looking to enhance their own personal resiliency or that of their agencies. LAW ENFORCEMENT SUICIDE PREVENTION TRAINING RESIDES WHOLLY WITHIN THE PROFESSION PREVENTING SUICIDE AMONG OFFICERS IS NOT A LAW ENFORCEMENT TRAINING ISSUE


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