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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Seminar seeks to help prevent police suicides

Seminar seeks to help prevent police suicides

Another recent study by the Badge of Life, a group of active and retired police officers, medical experts and families affected by suicide, found that police officers have a higher suicide rate than the general public. The research found that while the suicide rate for the general public was 11 per 100,000 people.

A seminar on mental health in law enforcement hoped to help law enforcement officials deal with the stress of the job and help distressed officers before it becomes too late.

Several Norwalk Police officers joined about 300 police officials from around the state who attended the seminar, which took place Wednesday at Central Connecticut University and was sponsored by the Connecticut Alliance to Benefit Law Enforcement and the state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.

"The difficult thing is that it's not always easy to identify someone who may be experiencing these difficulties," said Norwalk Police Chief Harry Rilling.

The seminar, titled "Training the Mind: Preventing Police Suicide and Promoting Mental Wellness," featured information about how to spot the signs and symptoms of emotionally distressed officers as well as instructions on how to get help for distressed officers and coping with stress. Rilling said the training is valuable, because it gives officers the tools to help identify "any personnel that is prone to harming themselves."

National studies show that about 140 police officers across the country killed themselves each year from 2008 to 2010, and that officers are three times more likely to kill themselves than to be killed by others.

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