I read the news of yet another law enforcement officer suicide. Reading the news, even after all these years, still brings up a wide range of emotions: sadness, anger, bewilderment and most definitely frustration.
My frustration comes from our inability to find more effective ways to spread a message that might help prevent these suicides. It’s not just the law enforcement officers’ suicides that affect me this way. I am deeply affected by the tragedy of suicide that befalls other first responders and military, retired, active and veterans.
- READ: PTSD THE KILLER AMONG US
Right now, at this very moment, there is someone that is giving serious thought to suicide, someone who is part of my law enforcement, first responder and military family. If I could get one message to them it would be, “Don’t give up five minutes before the miracle happens.”
These suffering people need to know that it gets better. There is light at the end of the tunnel, no matter how desperate, or unsolvable their situation might seem.
Maybe the best way to illustrate the miracle is to tell you parts of my own story. I won’t be using my name because my story involves people that are important to me. Those people include my children, parents, siblings, spouse and also many members of my extended first responder family. The truth is, my name is not important to the story.
Every now and then I start to experience what I call the sadness. It seems to come on me for no particular reason. It can creep in like a slowly settling fog. The most recent example began during the afternoon of a recent holiday. I know what prompted it. I was thinking about and missing my children. Unlike in the past, I didn’t fight the feelings or look for a way to medicate the emotions away by drowning them with alcohol. I felt them, I accepted them and I got busy doing other things.
I also made the decision that when this happens, my response needs to include much of what I was taught more than two decades ago. As a result, I’m here, enjoying my day in spite of the sadness and trying to relay my story of recovery to someone who is suffering.
I’m a retired law enforcement officer; my rank or agency doesn’t matter, my rank or agency doesn’t protect me. For the things that lead up to law enforcement, first responder and military suicides cross all boundaries.
My career was ended due to an act of violence, which resulted in lifelong permanent disabilities. My sadness is the results of years of trauma, both the events that happened to me, and those that I had to handle as a first responder. I was diagnosed with PTSD and clinical depression back in 1990.
My inability to handle the trauma more effectively and the effects it had on me and my family led to divorce and spending many years apart from our children. The good news is, despite years of separation, we have great relationships today.
As a result, when I feel like I’m missing my children it can often fire up old emotions, memories and open the flood doors for symptoms that came from those old traumas.
More than 25 years ago, I used to drown those feelings and medicate away the sadness with alcohol. How much or how often I drank isn’t important. What is important is that my solution at that time became more of a problem and eventually made everything worse physically, emotionally, and it had devastating consequences for my family life.
I eventually went to a treatment center that specialized in first responders, way back in 1992 and they helped save my life. That facility no longer exists, but there is a lifesaving treatment center that is doing the same thing today.
The facility is Transformations Treatment Center in Delray Beach, Fla. In addition to a host of treatment options for the general public, they have a highly specialized treatment program for law enforcement officers, first responders and military veterans. Their highly ethical and professional program for these protectors is run by therapists who are one of us, who know us, who are retired law enforcement and military veteran.
The issues surrounding law enforcement, first responder and military suicides are complex and can’t be easily addressed by a nonprofessional like me. But I can say this, my life is infinitely better than it used to be, and while the sadness still comes upon me from time to time, it no longer dominates my life.
If you or someone you know has been struggling with substance abuse issues and, or co-occurring mental health problems, including PTSD, please take time to learn more about Transformations Treatment Center’s programs. You can call Transformations Treatment Center at (888) 991-9725. You can also get more details on their website at https://www.transformationstreatment.center/treatment-options/individualized-programs/first-responder/.