WOODHAVEN, Mich. (FOX 2) - Nine police officers have died by suicide this year alone in the nation's largest police department in New York. As that sends families there reeling, depression is hurting officers everywhere. A Detroit-area man is working to fix the problem.
Call for Backup has produced a video called Hurt Locker to show the impact that police work can have on officers everywhere. Featuring the voice of 14-year-old Robyn Slade, it speaks to the pain officers feel and hold in everyday. You can watch the video here.
David Edwards heads up the Call for Backup program. He has toured the country with his message. In 2019, 74 officers in America have been killed in the line of duty, and 124 officers have died by suicide. It needs to stop.
"That mental armor that we put up, that it may protect us in situations that are potentially distressing, but also, while it may be keeping the bad things from getting in, it's also keeping things from getting out," said David Edwards.
The Woodhaven Police Department signed up for the class. The chaplain and the chief say it helps officers learn from one another that it's OK to express the pain and stress of the job with each other.
"They're going to be talking to me, they know who I am, I work with them, I do the same job that they do so I feel like it's very beneficial to have someone like David Edwards here to train you to be that peer-to-peer support," said Officer Alan Jackson, a chaplain for the Woodhaven Police Department.
"Every day is stressful whether it's the actual calls they go on or the hours that they work, by having a department chaplain and a chaplain program, the officers are aware that on any given day they can call just to talk to him, whether it's about family life, financial problems, or problems in the department or things that they experience on the job," said Woodhaven Police Chief Robert Toth.
The video from the grassroots group has already been shared across the country more than 400,000 times. It speaks to an issue that is getting worse with more suicides in police departments. The training is different than calling for help. It teaches officers to help each other even before it's time for a therapist.
"We so strongly advocate for peer-to-peer support so that officers learn some skills to recognize distress within one another," Edwards said.
You can learn more here: https://callforbackup.org/contact/