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A Massachusetts-based nonprofit that tracks police suicides says at least 228 officers died by suicide in 2019, the highest number the organization has reported yet.
The 2019 number is again higher than all other line-of-duty deaths combined, a release from Blue H.E.L.P. says.
Because the organization compiles reports of suicide deaths among current and retired officers to arrive at its number, the true total is likely higher. That also means this year’s increase may simply indicate more people are reporting officers’ suicide deaths.
In contribution to the #IWillListen campaign, Taunton police filmed a video, posting it publicly on Monday, to help smash the stigma surrounding people in law enforcement seeking mental health services.
What has become clear to me since the last time we met is that I don’t think we are talking about suicide enough. In 2016, 143 police and correction officers died in the line of duty. They died from car accidents, heart attacks, gunfire; multiple causes of death. Each and every one of those officers is honored, they are memorialized and their families receive benefits. In 2016, I personally know of 100 law enforcement officers and 28 corrections officers that completed suicide. Their names are not memorialized, they are not honored and their families do not get benefits. I came here yesterday and somebody told me about it another officer who completed suicide and I asked what his name was. I do not have that name. I know every single name, I know every story. I know every one of their loved ones because I‘ve been really lucky, and really unlucky, to have heard their stories. So, excuse me this is kind of an emotional talk for me having listened to so much of this.
MEDFORD, N.J. — It’s been three years since the sound of a gunshot shattered April Scherzer’s life.
“Every day I wake up, I start from that,” Scherzer, 38, said. “My day begins with that gunshot. I relive all of that, all over again, up until now, up until this present moment.”
Max was just 36 years old and had spent 12 years working as a police officer for the Westampton Township Police Department in New Jersey, a rural community about 40 minutes outside Philadelphia. For several of those years, he struggled to cope with depression, substance abuse and the effects of trauma so often experienced by police officers and other first responders.
Nicole Rikard had recently married Sgt. John Rikard of the Asheville Police Department in North Carolina. He had an 8-year-old son, Tucker, from a previous marriage.
Soon after they married, Nicole had to go to Florida for some work training. John worked an overnight shift and would call her when he woke up to check in.
But one day, John wasn’t answering her texts. Nicole heard from a colleague that he hadn’t shown up for work either.
“Stop the Stigma.” That was the message at the Blue Honor. Educate. Lead. Prevent. (H.E.L.P.) Police Week 2019 Dinner this past Saturday in Washington, D.C.
Acting on a gracious invitation to cover the event by Blue H.E.L.P. president and co-founder Karen Solomon, I witnessed an emotionally moving tribute to the families of officers lost to police suicide.