IACP 2021 preview: 20,000 points of undeniable data on suicide in law enforcement
Blue H.E.L.P. presents a breakdown of law enforcement suicide statistics collected since 2016
While the in-person portion of IACP 2021 has been canceled due to Hurricane Ida, over 100 presentations will be available online. This article is a preview of a panel discussion that will review police suicide data collected by Blue H.E.L.P. since 2016 and the FBI's Law Enforcement Suicide Data Collection initiative.
While many choose to deny or ignore the issue of suicide in law enforcement, real data shows the true scale of the issue.
After collecting more than 20,000 points of data over the last five years, Blue H.E.L.P. continues to share information with law enforcement agencies, elected officials, the media and members of the public to raise awareness of the mental health crisis plaguing the profession.
Blue H.E.L.P. has teamed up with the FBI Criminal Justice Information Service (CJIS) and mental health providers to tell the story of the data the organization has collected and review several wellness programs that are putting the data to use to improve well-being programs for the law enforcement profession.
During a panel discussion that will be presented as part of IACP’s 2021 virtual event, the FBI CJIS will also share information about its data collection efforts and how the data will be used to improve training and resources for law enforcement agencies.
Karen Solomon, president of Blue H.E.L.P., will provide a breakdown of the law enforcement suicide statistics from the past few years, presenting the data that has so far been collected since 2016 by the organization. In these statistics will be included information on race, gender, manner of death, duty status and rank of those who have died.
Amy Blasher, FBI Unit Chief over the Law Enforcement Suicide Data Collection (LESDC) initiative, will discuss the LESDC Act, signed into law in 2020. She will discuss the information required for reporting, including the circumstances, general location, demographic information, occupational category and method of each suicide being reported. Unit Chief Blasher will present the scope of the LESDC Act and will provide further information on the projected goals of the Task Force. Additionally, she will discuss the FBI Officer Safety and Awareness Training Initiative and its goal to provide free research-based relevant, and potentially life-saving training to the law enforcement community.
Amy Morgan, CEO of Academy Hour, will provide the mental health professional’s perspective through discussion on what to do with the data to work toward prevention by improving and strengthening overall officer wellness. Programs developed to decrease stigma and build officer wellness include peer support, counseling, training and overall leadership support, among others. The importance of providing mental health resources will be presented, as well as a listing of existing resources that officers and departments can implement immediately to start the process of improving officer wellness.
Lastly, Jennifer Styles, Program Manager for IACP, will present more on suicide prevention resources, discussing in detail the National Consortium for Preventing Law Enforcement Suicide Toolkit.
The issue of law enforcement suicide is an important one, confirming that officer wellness needs to become a higher priority. With more mental health resources becoming available, and leadership taking a more active role in officer wellness, reducing stigma and being proactive are key to officers being better equipped to seek help when needed. The suicide data will show the success of mental health programs and initiatives, with the continuous goal of reducing and eliminating law enforcement suicides.