Two Ark. organizations working together to prevent law enforcement officer suicides

Organizations working to reduce law enforcement officer suicides

GARLAND COUNTY, Ark. (KTHV) -- Working in law enforcement is no easy task.

That's why CHI St. Vincent and the Garland County Sheriff's Office are now taking steps to make sure police have the resources they need to cope with stress of the job. Suicide and violence prevention are often situations police are called to. But what happens when the tables turn and an officer is in a place where they want to take his or her own life? CHI reported that last year 108 U.S. law enforcement officers committed suicide.

"I think it's imperative that we understand they're human,” said Susie Reece, a Violence Prevention Specialist with CHI.

She thinks even our strongest men and women need help too. Suicide prevention continues to be a difficult topic of discussion.

"I think it's hard to admit because you're fearful of what others will say,” she said.

Reece said before 2016, Garland County had one of the highest suicide rates in the state of Arkansas.

“We don't think about their day to day and how they struggle. And because they're so strong and we put an image on them, it makes is so much harder for them to ask for help,” said Reece.

CHI and Garland Police have created a PSA they hope will inform, train, and educate law enforcement officers about how to deal with issues they may develop from work. 

“You have to learn to disregard the things you've seen and not take it home with you,” said Deputy Roy Elliot. "I experienced a similar situation when I was in the military. There were signs and we caught it before it happened.”

He thinks it’s important for officers to develop comradery. He's thankful to know he and his peers now have a resource like CHI available at any time.

“We're supposed to be upstanding citizens. So for us to go and seek help is out of the norm for an officer,” he said. 

Garland County plans to implement crisis intervention training for officers in the coming months. The PSA will be available free of charge to broadcast stations and law enforcement agencies across the country.

© 2017 KTHV-TV


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