Non-profit presents national conference to support survivors of officers who lost their lives to the demons of PTSD


CAMDENTON, MO – This summer, a nonprofit foundation that has dedicated itself to bringing hope and support to survivors of police suicide will be offering a national conference for family members and co-workers of those police officers who have lost their lives to suicide.

That organization is Survivors of Blue Suicide Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit which was established in 2020. Survivors of Blue Suicide (SBS) is a sister organization to Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.), a nonprofit that supports families and colleagues of those officers who have died in the line of duty.

SBS had its origins in a presentation to C.O.P.S. in 2018 by Danny Overley, Retired Deputy Chief of Indianapolis Police Department.  Overley planted the seed of recognizing the need for a commitment to helping survivors of police suicide in addition to survivors of line-of-duty deaths.

Image courtesy of Survivors of Blue Suicide
Image courtesy of Survivors of Blue Suicide

Shortly thereafter, in 2019, the C.O.P.S. National Board looked into expanding its reach to families and co-workers of those lost to suicide, and determined that C.O.P.S. did not have the capacity to nearly triple in size.

Instead, to meet these vast needs, a new organization was born, thanks to the efforts of then-C.O.P.S. Director of Operations, Shelley Jones, a 21-year veteran of law enforcement, and Laurie Putnam, then C.O.P.S. Director of Chapter and Survivor Support.

With the blessing of C.O.P.S., Survivors of Blue Suicide was launched in 2020 to help and support survivors of police suicide.  Donations for the startup were generously provided by C.O.P.S. and Law Enforcement United.

On its website, SBS shares that it is:

“Fostering hope by uniting survivors of law enforcement suicide to support one another and honor our fallen heroes.”

Shelley Jones, now SBS Executive Director, told me of the organization’s relationship with survivors:

“It’s really important to us that these survivors know that, one, we’re here; two, we are not going to forget them; and three: our mission is to connect survivors so they can support each other, because who better to understand what they are going through than others that are going through similar situations.”

The grim reality of police suicide, Jones added, is that law enforcement suicides annually outpace police deaths at the hands of another.

Jones went on to say that families, loved ones, and colleagues of police officers who died by suicide face a monumental set of challenges.

For one thing, suicides are typically not treated as line-of-duty deaths by agencies, and so heirs of officers who died by suicide do not tend to receive benefits available to those who have lost loved ones in the line of duty.

Jones told me:

“Historically, these families are just left to fend for themselves.”

In addition, survivors must grapple with many financial challenges in the wake of their loss, from loss of income, to loss of benefits, to lack of other means of support.

Perhaps most obviously, survivors must face emotional challenges, such as intense grief and guilt, and grappling with the question of why their loved one chose to take his or her own life.

One emotional matter that finds itself at the forefront, Jones told me, is the stigma that families face in the wake of police suicide, notably the stigma of hearing that their loved one “chose” to take their own life and leave their loved ones behind.

From speaking with many experts and survivors in the area of suicide over the years, Jones knows all too well the heartbreaking truth about this “choice”: that those who die by their own hand are not purposefully committed to traumatizing those who are left behind.  Rather, they have determined that there is no other way to stop the excruciating, indescribable pain that comes with continuing to live.

In the midst of these challenges, Jones is seeing a positive direction from law enforcement agencies in how they handle the aftermath of police suicide, especially in terms of the survivors left behind.  

She told me that many agencies are recognizing the need for support of survivors of police suicide, adding:

“Some agencies handle it very well and take very good care of the survivors.  They connect with them on a regular basis, and part of our goal is to get all agencies to treat them that way.

“That’s what we’re shooting for, for all agencies, is that the agencies don’t forget these families and the price they have paid for their loved one being in the law enforcement field.”

Do you want to join our private family of first responders and supporters?  Get unprecedented access to some of the most powerful stories that the media refuses to show you.  Proceeds get reinvested into having active, retired and wounded officers, their families and supporters tell more of these stories.  Click to check it out.

LET Unity

SBS is dedicated to meeting survivors where they are and supporting them as they walk their grief journey, while also connecting them to other survivors who can relate to their experiences and support each other.

In keeping with that mission, SBS has several methods of outreach.

For example, SBS will be hosting its second annual National Law Enforcement Suicide Survivors’ Conference and Blue Family Memorial Events, from July 22-24, 2022.

Jones told me:

“The conference is designed to help survivors find hope again.

“It’s designed to honor the life that their officer lived, and give respect to the sacrifices of the families.

“We want to send the message to these families that they have not been forgotten, and that we will be there until the end of time for them.”

The conference will be held in Indianapolis, IN, a site chosen specifically for ease of travel to the location and potentially less out-of-pocket costs for attendees than in other areas of the United States.

For the conference, survivors are responsible for travel and hotel costs; conference-related activities are all covered by SBS.

At the event, survivors will be able to attend workshops to help address the challenges they face, and they will also be able to bond with other survivors who understand more than anyone else what they are experiencing.

There will also be a Memorial Service and a Blue Light Vigil to honor the officers who died by suicide.

In addition, there will be a granite memorial wall that will travel to the conference.  The wall displays the names of officers who died by suicide.  If they desire, survivors will be able to make rubbings of the carved names of their loved ones.

Image courtesy of Survivors of Blue Suicide
Image courtesy of Survivors of Blue Suicide

Survivors of Blue Suicide welcomes agencies and survivors who would like to attend this conference.  Agencies are invited to send an escort officer to the event to accompany surviving loved ones.

The deadline for registration is June 20, 2022.

Also for survivors, SBS hosts virtual sessions four times per month.  Two of the sessions are for all survivors who want to join, one is for survivors who are parents, and one is for survivors who are spouses.

Those sessions, Jones told me, provide wonderful opportunities for survivors to lift each other in support, and to grow closer while assisting each other through their struggles.

She said:

“If somebody is having a bad night or a bad day, the other survivors are all over it, helping each other out….

“Even though they are not there physically, they are helping each other.”

Also, SBS hosts retreats for survivors.

A Co-Worker’s Retreat will be held in April of 2022, sponsored by Motorola Solutions Foundation, the nonprofit arm of Motorola.

A Spouse’s Weekend Retreat will be held in June of 2022, and a Parent’s Weekend will be held in October.

For these retreats, SBS covers meals, lodging, and activities.  Survivors only need to cover travel costs.

SBS also participates in a number of law enforcement conferences annually, helping law enforcement agencies best understand how to navigate the aftermath of blue suicide.

Jones told me:

“We talk about the importance of a policy.  We talk about the importance of taking care of the officers, the co-workers, and the significance of not abandoning these families, and taking care of these families.

“We are suggesting that agencies take care of the families in the same manner as they do line-of-duty deaths, because we focus on the life that they lived, and not how they died.”

Image courtesy of Survivors of Blue Suicide
Image courtesy of Survivors of Blue Suicide

In another form of outreach, SBS has survivors who play an ambassadorial role with officers at C.O.P.S. Traumas of Law Enforcement trainings.

Jones said:

“They present and tells their stories in hopes that they will send a message to these officers that if they’re struggling, they need to get help, or their families are going to be suffering what their families are….

“That it’s ok to not be ok, and that it’s ok to reach out for help.”

This message is fully embraced by SBS, which also goes out of its way to help officers in trouble.

Jones told me:

“If we are contacted by an agency, by a family member, by anyone that says, ‘My officer is struggling and I need to get him some help,’ we will move heaven and earth to find help for that person.”

For those who wish to support Survivors of Blue Suicide financially, donations can be made by phone, online, or by mail.  Information is available at this link. 

Survivors of Blue Suicide merchandise, such as decals, hoodies, and sweatshirts, can also be purchased here.


Want to make sure you never miss a story from Law Enforcement Today?  With so much “stuff” happening in the world on social media, it’s easy for things to get lost.  

Make sure you click “following” and then click “see first” so you don’t miss a thing!  (See image below.)  Thanks for being a part of the LET family!
Facebook Follow First
Submit a Correction
Related Posts