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#JamesDonaldson on #MentalHealth – Editorial: Dealing With ‘#Suicide By #Cop’

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About 10% of the roughly 1,000 fatal #police shootings each year are considered “#suicide by #cop.”

In October, The Washington Post profiled new tactics offered to big-city law enforcement agencies to de-escalate incidents wherein cops resort to violence.

One part of the piece caught our eye amid the debate, now somewhat latent, over fatal encounters between #police and civilians — which have created a cottage industry of activism that seeks to convince the public to believe that brutality by authorities is routine and occurs with impunity.

According to the Post, about 10% of the roughly 1,000 fatal #police shootings each year are considered “#suicide by #cop.”

#JamesDonaldson notes:

Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for #mentalhealthawarenessandsuicideprevention, especially pertaining to our younger generation of students and student-athletes.

Getting men to speak up and reach out for help and assistance is one of my passions. Us men need to not suffer in silence or drown our sorrows in alcohol, hang out at bars and strip joints, or get involved with drug use.

Having gone through a recent bout of #depression and #suicidalthoughts myself, I realize now, that I can make a huge difference in the lives of so many by sharing my story, and by sharing various resources I come across as I work in this space.  #http://bit.ly/JamesMentalHealthArticle

Related content

Deputy fatally shoots Lakeland man in ‘suicide by cop’ case

November 29, 2019

Unfortunately we witnessed such an incident in Polk County over the holiday weekend.

On Friday, Polk Deputy Chad Nichols shot and killed Kenneth Layton of North Lakeland after Layton refused repeated commands to drop the gun he was brandishing, and eventually pointed, at Nichols.

Sheriff Grady Judd told reporters that Layton’s family said he had been despondent since cancer took his wife two months ago. “This is a classic, a classic, #suicide by #cop,” Judd told the media. “It’s just a sad situation. I’m sorry he put us in that situation. I’m sorry he didn’t allow us to help him.”

As all of us should be.

But Judd touched on something that many of us forget or overlook when these incidents occur: the effect on Deputy Nichols.

“I’ve got a 15-year deputy … who’s got to live with this the rest of his life. And all he was doing was defending himself,” Judd said. “It’s traumatic enough when you’re shooting a really bad guy, but it’s really traumatic when after it’s all over you find out that he’s using you as a vehicle to commit #suicide and he’s left you with that baggage.”

Judd’s right, and what he refers to is illustrated in “Suicide by Cop: Inducing Officers to Shoot,” a 2004 book edited by Vivian Lloyd of the University of North Carolina-Charlotte that studied police who commit what some analysts term “victim-precipitated homicide.”

“In these particular cases,” the study noted, “the officer is faced with the additional impact of killing an individual who is, in essence, seeking help from the #police in doing something that he or she could not do – the taking of his/her own life.” Thus, many #policeofficers involved in #suicide-by-cop situations experience life-altering psychological effects that include #depression, guilt, nightmares, flashbacks, a heightened sense of danger and on rare occasions post-traumatic stress disorder. For police, such emotional turmoil can in some cases lead to a divorce or a similar breakdown in relationships to those closest to them — and even those folks often need help when the officer doesn’t fully rebound.

The authors note cops also feel anger and confusion for being “manipulated” into shooting someone. Then, atop that, many officers take on guilt over the effects their actions have for the survivors of the “victim.”

The study further notes, “Regardless of the subject’s motivation or mindset, it remains that these individuals chose to pose a perceived lethal threat to law enforcement personnel. In this regard, the so-called victims must share some of the responsibility during a #police shooting, as it is their actions that often precipitate the final outcome. An outcome that tragically has resulted in a ‘lose-lose’ situation, often having negative consequences for the victims, their family, the police agency and the police officer involved. … Officers are often given seconds to decide how to resolve a potentially lethal conflict. In many instances, #policeofficers have no other option but to use deadly force.”

And in those seconds many of them will be psychologically scarred for a lifetime.

Some in the #mentalhealth community bristle at the idea that #suicide is a “selfish” act. But those who choose #suicide by involving #policeofficers clearly disregard the impact their decision will have on the public servants whom they convince — typically by waving weapons and refusing to submit to commands — to carry out the fateful deed.

The Post article revealed that it happens more frequently than many of us likely thought. And in those cases, if the “victims” decline to let the rest of us help them, then the next best thing we can do is to help those left behind — like Deputy Nichols — understand that the choices of others left them with no choice.

Photo by Ludmila Aleksandra on Pexels.com

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