Police officers and firefighters are more likely to die by suicide than in the line of duty, according to the numbers.
A local nonprofit works around the clock to try and curb this statistic and provide support for those in the line of duty. While they are based in Brentwood, Serve & Protect provides trauma services for public safety professionals across the country.
“This year alone we know of 75 suicides, which is about 20 more than the line of duty deaths,” Serve & Protect Founder and CEO Robert Michaels told News 2.
It’s a national trend he says they have seen for years.
“Every year, for the recent years, we have had more suicides than line-of-duty deaths in both police officers and firefighters,” Michaels said.
Michaels says a study a few years by a doctor with Behavioral Analysis showed that every 17 hours an officer commits suicide. It is a startling number that he hates to keep counting.
“The number is not the important thing, one is too many,” he explained.
There were recently three members of the New York Police Department that died by suicide in less than 10 days.
“The minute before that hero and I use that term intentionally, took their own life anybody would have relied on them,” Michaels said.
He says they are digging deeper to find out what’s behind the cause, pointing out that Serve & Protect recently partnered with Blue Wall institute which is tracking data on first responder suicides.
“The largest issue is hopelessness,” Michaels said. “When somebody gets to the point where they feel like there is nothing left that can help them, they become hopeless.”
Michaels says that’s why Serve & Protect works to find hope for those that put their lives on the line.
“We have dropped post-traumatic stress disorder in favor of post-traumatic stress injury because it’s an emotional wound,” he explained. “It’s something that you can’t see that’s invisible, but it’s real, and it can be treated just like a bullet wound or a knife wound, a cut. We can put them with the right people that do the right treatment, and it helps.”
Michaels says Serve & Protect has made more than 5,500 referrals since its conception in 2011. They offer resources and several free seminars online, for more information click here.