Recently, I was a member of the Public Safety Suicide Prevention Panel at the annual Massachusetts Department of Public Health Suicide Prevention Conference. It was a great workshop hosted by Riverside Trauma Center and I was joined by a retiring Springfield, Mass. Fire Captain and a Deputy Sheriff of the Middlesex County (Mass.) House of Correction. It was well attended by various public safety personnel, clinicians, military and government officials.
Following our presentation, I was greeted by many of our public safety peers and clinicians who were amazed and saddened at this serious issue, suicide by our own public safety personnel.
A woman who works for a sheriff’s office in Western Massachusetts and I were discussing the lack of in-service training currently in our state. She stated that the 16 hours of in-service training her agency offered in the past year, only a small amount of training time was offered for preventing a prisoner suicide but there was nothing offered for the benefit of the corrections personnel.
The next morning, I ran into this woman again as I was entering a workshop. We exchanged pleasantries and she stopped me, asking if she could give me something.
She took off a blue silicone wrist bracelet and she handed it to me.
The bracelet was engraved: WHAT YOU DO MATTERS
She thanked me again for my participation in the previous day’s workshop and that someone else is recognizing the pressures facing all public safety, first responders and corrections personnel. I acknowledged her gift and her words with sincere gratitude as I was overwhelmed with my own appreciation towards her. Someone else was listening to our discussion.
I made an offer to come to her agency to discuss wellness and suicide prevention at their In-Service Training.
I have been wearing this bracelet for the past few weeks as a reminder to me that I am making a difference. Whether on the job, teaching, mentoring others, writing and advocating that LEOs are not discard able items. We are human beings dealing with the unthinkable day in and day out. When tragedies strike anywhere, law enforcement is the first ones in and usually the last ones to leave. Some of us deal with the stress of station house politics, dealing with a demanding public, being constantly accountable for our behavior (on-off duty) or witnessing the trauma and the misery of our modern society, LEOs pay the emotional price for every moment.
There are many stand up people who recognize what we do and they thank us. I want to take a moment to share with my fellow LEOs, first responders, our families and our supporters and say: WHAT YOU DO MATTERS!
To everyone who gets frustrated and disheartened by the negative environment filled with constant conflicts within our honorable profession, I want to thank you.
Thank you for taking care of our own personal needs and self-care. Thank you for standing up to the chaos, dysfunction and the misguided individuals in our communities.
Thank you for your commitment to training and improving your skills both as a law enforcement and as an emotional warrior. We live with the spirit of gentle kindness toward the good citizens who need it. Don’t mistake our kindness for weakness when dealing with danger for we are always prepared to protect ourselves and others.
An instructor in my recruit academy said it best many years ago: the smallest things you do on this job will make a significant difference in someone else’s life.
This has been my personal mission statement as a police officer for the past 25 years.
My Brothers and Sisters: What you do matters.
REMEMBER: WE ARE THE HONORABLE PROFESSION!
Stay safe and be well.
Sgt. Mark St.Hilaire is a 28 year police veteran working in metro-west suburb of Boston, Massachusetts. He is a contributing wellness writer for LET. He is a volunteer police peer with a regional CISM team. You can read his new blog at www.rescueteamwellness.com. You can contact Mark by confidential email: [email protected]. Follow Mark on Linked In and Twitter: NPD3306.