One of my favorite bloggers, Maddog Medic has lost a friend. This friend died by his own hand, with his own service revolver. Those of you who work in emergency medicine, in EMS, as police officers and those who love them - you know that this happens far too often. I never met Maddog's friend, but his death is a loss to all of us.
I have a friend who is trying to make suicide, but especially police suicide less common. He started the Police Suicide Foundation . He says that statistics aren't easy to find, but that police officer death by suicide occurs at 2-3 times the rate of line-of-duty deaths. He spends much of his time trying to call attention to this fact and to try to increase the level of support provided to law enforcement and emergency personnel. This is a subject about which Reverend Douglas knows a great deal. He is a police chaplain and a retired police officer. He was very nearly a statistic himself. His story is on the PSF web site. There is also contact information there.
The Police Suicide foundation has counselors available to talk to families who have lost loved ones to suicide -- and to those considering suicide. Warning signs of impending suicide are included - but can be subtle and difficult to interpret. One thing I learned many years ago while working a crisis hot line - never be afraid to ask someone if they are considering suicide. They may act as if they are offended, but they will know that you care enough to ask.
Suicide is not a subject often discussed. The subject makes people uncomfortable. We'd rather not think about it, but we must. Suicide most often results from depression - a treatable illness. If we do not discuss it, we will never be able to reach the people most likely to succumb.