Law enforcement has high suicide rates, mental health options available

Law enforcement has high suicide rates, mental health options available

AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - The sound of bag pipes heard from the Northwest Texas Hospital this morning was meant to remember officers who took their own life.

An Amarillo police sergeant says suicide rates for law enforcement are almost double the average person’s suicide.

“We see everybody’s bad day, you have a couple of bad days a year but hopefully none, but officers all day, everyday, it’s what we do, we see people on their worst day and then we take little bits of that worst day home with us and those tend to accumulate to. Now we have that situation going on that we have to deal with,” said Casey Ogden, academy sergeant at the Amarillo Police Department.

An officer who worked for the Amarillo Police Department for 12 years said officers see violence daily, and that violence eventually catches up to them.

The Administrator for Behavioral Services at the center believes the criticism that law enforcement is currently under only adds to the problem.

“I think that there are a lot of challenges in our society today. If you watch the news, law enforcement, first responders are under a lot of pressure and criticism that can’t make the job easier,” said Douglas Coffey, administrator for behavioral services at the Northwest Texas Hospital.

The event here today at the Pavilion not only wanted to spread awareness of the high suicide rates among law enforcement throughout the nation, but to also just let them know they have someone to talk to and that can make a big difference.

“We try hard to let our guys and remind our officers that they have these resources available to them,” said Dennis Cantwell, supervisor for the crisis intervention team at the Amarillo Police Department.

Last week, Cantwell joined the Crisis Intervention Team to be a resource that the community and fellow officers can talk to regarding their mental health.

The Mental Health Officer at the Potter County Sheriff’s department just started a program a year ago to be that listening ear for officers.

She is paying attention to the signs that might seem concerning.

“They’re having crying spells, they aren’t sleeping at night, they lost their appetite, they have a hard time coming to work and I ask them if they have any thoughts about wanting to hurt themselves,” said Sara Shook, the mental health officer at the Potter County Sheriff’s Office

Shook says there has been an increase of deputies wanting to get things off their chest since the pandemic started.

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