In 2017 and 2018, many of you took a knee during the national anthem at football games. You took part in a wave of disrespect targeting police officers across the country … because you thought it was the “cool” thing to do.
But here’s what was happening while you were making your “statement” and then sipping on your beer.
In 2017, nearly 150 officers died by suicide. In 2018, it was 159 officers.
More than 300 individuals in those two years who could no longer wake up and fight. See the attacks on those who hold the thin blue line. See the darkness in the world.
Do you know what they left behind?
As Americans prepare to watch the Super Bowl, let me ask you something – do you enjoy the snacks and festivities? The time with family? In the SAFETY of your home? The safety that was bought and paid for by those who serve and protect?
Good for you. Because while THAT was happening, these families were struggling to get out of bed.
More than 300 officers in two years. And that number doesn’t count the lives lost to suicide among retired police officers. Or those who have left policing.
The numbers are staggering. By some counts … we lose upwards of 22 lives a day.
Right now, in this very moment, there are police officers … veterans … and others reading this who have been considering suicide.
There are friends of yours who have been battling demons … and are – in this very moment – thinking that the ONE way they have of making the world a better place … is to leave it.
There are officers who have been wounded in the line of duty … who are struggling to pay their medical bills and support their families … who have told me that they wish they had just been killed so their families would have been provided for.
There are people who are suffering from depression and mental illness believing that suicide is the answer.
If you’re one of those people, I need you to understand something. There are people in YOUR life … RIGHT NOW … who love you. Need you.
Turn off the television. Stop believing that the world is as dark as the media may be telling you.
Get off of Facebook and Instagram and YouTube.
Instead … I want you to pick up the telephone and call a friend. A family member. Because what you don’t realize is that your death WILL DIRECTLY affect the lives of others.
It would change the future for them – and it won’t be for the better.
They need you. They love you.
I want you to think about someone who is close to you. It could be your wife. Your husband. Your child. Your friend. Print the person’s picture and keep it with you – in your wallet, in your purse.
Hold their faces in your mind and know that their life is better – will ALWAYS be better – because they have YOU in it.
And for the rest of you – THINK. Before you disrespect someone who fights for you and who serves you … THINK. What if YOUR actions … your words … lead someone that YOU love or care about to take their own life? What if you had to spend the rest of your life knowing that you played a role in taking someone from their families? That you led to a child growing up without a mom or a dad? Would you change?
And to everyone … we need to fight. Suicide doesn’t know race, sex, age, sexual preference, job title, political party. It only knows how to destroy … and it’s up to us to fight back TOGETHER.
Your life is incredibly valuable. So is every life. Let’s help spread that message.
The video below was created in December of 2017. It’s still relevant today.
A very special thank you to Blue H.E.L.P. Below is some information about the organization and the work they are doing to stop suicides. We encourage you to check out the good work they’re doing and contribute, if your means permit.
It is the mission of Blue H.E.L.P. to reduce mental health stigma through education, advocate for benefits for those suffering from post-traumatic stress, acknowledge the service and sacrifice of law enforcement officers we lost to suicide, assist officers in their search for healing, and to bring awareness to suicide and mental health issues.
Blue H.E.L.P. began in 2015 after The Price They Pay was written by two of it’s founders; Karen Solomon and Jeffrey McGill. It became clear to Karen, Jeff and Steve Hough that suicide prevention and care for the families afterward was not offered in law enforcement; compassion and understanding took a backseat to stigma and shame. In 2017, they incorporated and received their 501(c)3 designation and are now the only organization in the country that collects law enforcement suicide data and regularly supports families in the aftermath.
Watch Your 12
“I’ve got your six.”
“Watch your six.”
Six. Your back. Watch your back. I’ve got your back. We’re reminding you not to let someone sneak up on you, ambush you. We’ll back you up so you’re safe.
Six isn’t the only number on the clock. If your back is six, your front is twelve. Your heart, your face, your head. Your twelve.
Who is watching your twelve? Who’s got your twelve?
We’ve got your twelve. So do your friends, co-workers and family. More importantly, you’ve got your twelve.
Watch your head and heart. Look at yourself in the mirror and be honest with your emotions. Ask for help when you need it. Believe that things will get better. We’re here to remind you that all is not lost and you can complete a law enforcement career with your heart and mind intact.
We’ve got your 12.