More Officers Taking Own Lives

Editor’s Note: Police work takes a great emotional on our officers, and the suicide rate among law enforcement officers is at an all-time high. In this article, Jennifer Scott takes a look at the root causes, including untreated depression, and offers some resources and ideas for how to cope.

If you’re having thoughts about hurting yourself, it’s important to know, first and foremost, that you’re not alone. Many have traveled down the same path you’re on and have come out the other side healthy and happy. No matter how bad things seem, suicide is never the answer. Here are some facts, resources, and ways to help yourself through a difficult time.

Suicide is the 10th overall leading cause of death for all Americans, and the 2nd leading cause of death for those ages 24 to 35. The younger you are, the more likely you are to die by suicide. Every day, around 100 people die of suicide in America.

Not all suicide attempts result in death, however. In fact, the large majority do not. There is approximately 1 death for every 25 suicide attempts.

While depression is not the only cause of suicide, it is the number one cause. Depression is a factor in at least two-thirds of all suicides. Depression, left untreated, is the most dangerous thing to a person thinking of self-harm.

How to get help, right now
If you are thinking about harming yourself, you should call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The number is 1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK). The hotline is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. There is always someone ready and willing to talk to you. It is free and 100% confidential.

When you call the hotline, “A skilled, trained crisis worker who works at the Lifeline network crisis center closest to you will answer the phone. This person will listen to you, understand how your problem is affecting you, provide support, and share any resources that may be helpful.”

The lifeline is open to anyone thinking about hurting themselves as well as anyone concerned about their loved-ones. If you don’t have access to a phone, the lifeline also offers online chat.

Ways to deal with suicidal thoughts
If you are suffering from depression, the first thing you should do is talk to someone about it. This could be a trusted friend, a family member, a doctor, or a therapist. It’s important to know that emotions are ever-changing, but suicide is forever.

“Don’t let fear, shame, or embarrassment prevent you from seeking help. And if the first person you reach out to doesn’t seem to understand, try someone else. Just talking about how you got to this point in your life can release a lot of the pressure that’s building up and help you find a way to cope,” notes HelpGuide.org.

There are also many lifestyle changes that can help you better cope with depression and suicidal thoughts. It’s important to eat a healthy diet and get enough exercise. Regular physical activity is scientifically proven to boost brain chemicals that help stave off depression. Getting outdoors is also vital, as Vitamin D deficiency can play a large role in negative mood.

Studies have shown that mindfulness exercises, like meditation and yoga can be a huge factor in reducing anxiety, depression, and thoughts of suicide.

No matter how bad you feel right now—no matter how hopeless you may feel your situation is—there is always a way out. Millions of people successfully seek help for their depression and suicidal thoughts. You should never feel ashamed of your feelings. It is ok to have bad thoughts and to experience severe depression. It is not your fault. Acting on it, however, is a choice you make and one that your family and friends are made to deal with. The best thing you can do, right now, is talk to someone you can trust.

With SpiritFinder, Jennifer Scott offers a forum where those living with anxiety and depression can discuss their experiences.

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