I recently took a course (continuing education) on the Dispatcher's Role in Suicidal Calls. By far, one of the toughest calls we periodically handle. Just wanted to share some of the facts and truths I learned in this class with my fellow dispatchers.
**How many of us prepare ourselves for the onslaught of suicidal calls around the holidays, November and December? In fact, April and May have the highest suicide rates.
**All suicidal people are not mentally ill. As a calltaker, we know that intellectually, but we still think of them as crazy for thinking or attempting. A suicidal person may be unhappy, anxious, and/or upset, but not all can be labeled as mentally ill.
**As a dispatcher/calltaker we have a tendency to think of suicide as the actions of a young/younger person. But an elderly person commits suicide every 90 minutes.
**Suicide is the 8th leading cause of death in the US. Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for young people ages 15-24. For college students, the 2nd leading cause of death.
Now the really tough - "Hitting Close to Home" facts:
**In a survey of 500 police officers from 9 major cities, 98% have considered suicide at one time.
**There are 18.5 suicides per 100,000 documented cases of law enforcement suicide versus the military has documented 13 suicides per 100,000.
**LE Officers between the ages of 40-44 with on-the-job service of 20 plus years are at the highest risk of suicide, representing 27% of all law enforcement suicides.
**LE Officers commit suicide every 22 hours, nearly three times more often than LE Officers are killed in the line of duty.
**LE Retiree suicides are 10 times higher than active officers.
I've been close to suicide in many different ways. Personal life. Professional life. Friend. Have handled many suicide calls in my long and checkered career. Some ended better than others. I went into the class thinking and believing I, well, didn't know it all, but had a very good grasp on the concept and the ramifications and the fallout of suicide, especially in the area that I handle daily, as the calltaker and radio dispatcher.
Some interesting things were learned in class. And I will explore them more fully here. After all, this blog is for my use of exploration and learning and sharing. This is not a comfortable subject, but can't be the monster we are frightened of or the elephant in the room we don't acknowledge.