CopShock: Second Edition
Surviving Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

by Allen R. Kates, MFAW, BCECR

Suicide Support

If you are contemplating suicide, please consult the first few pages of the telephone book under headings like Crisis Counseling, Suicide Prevention or Suicide Hotline. For a national call, dial the 24-hour toll-free National Suicide Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or the National Hopeline Network at 800-784-2433.

As an option, you may e-mail The Samaritans suicide support organization at: Your message will be answered within twenty-four hours.

More police officers die by their own hand than are killed in-the-line-of-duty. Yet suicide of police officers is rarely talked about. With few support groups for families, friends and coworkers of officers who kill themselves, those left shocked and in pain often feel deserted. But there are many sources they can consult. For police officers feeling depressed or suicidal, they may want to talk to their peer support officers. If the department doesn’t offer peer support, you may wish to check out the resources that follow.

These resources offer good support and information, not just for police officers, but for anyone contemplating suicide or family members and friends trying to figure out how to help someone they love.


American Association of Suicidology (AAS)
More than 31,000 Americans kill themselves every year, and worldwide the figure is around 1,000,000. This leaves millions of devastated loved ones and friends behind wondering why. The number of non-fatal suicide attempts is far greater. The AAS serves as a national clearing house for information about suicide. It offers books and resources such as fact sheets, statistics and public education materials. On the website, the organization describes what steps to take to get help for someone thinking of committing suicide. In addition, the group offers referrals to suicide survivor support groups.
   Go to: Write: AAS, 5221 Wisconsin Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20015. Phone: 202-237-2280.


American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP)
The AFSP provides a considerable amount of information and support online. It offers programs to help survivors cope with loss and features a national directory of survivor support groups in U.S. states for families and friends. The website gives the warning signs that a loved one may be contemplating suicide.
   The list of resources includes videos, books, personal stories and studies on suicide.
   Go to: Write: AFSP, 120 Wall Street, 22nd Floor, New York, NY 10005. Call toll-free: 1-888-333-2377. Phone: 212-363-3500.

Badge of Life—Psychological Survival for Police Officers
The police volunteers at Badge of Life will help you with presentations and training seminars in order to create a better quality of mental health for police officers and to prevent suicide. Their board of directors consists of retired and active cops, a psychiatrist, clinical social worker, a psychiatric nurse and major consultants in the mental health field. The website also provides information for grieving families.
   Go to: Write: Andy O’Hara, Exec-utive Director, Badge of Life, PO Box 2203, Citrus Heights, CA 95611. Phone: 916-212-3144.

Befrienders Worldwide
With access in 21 languages, this website and its affiliates sole purpose is to reduce suicide worldwide. It has 31,000 volunteers in almost 40 countries with that one goal. Through hotlines and e-mails, the Befrienders offer a safe and confidential environment to talk about your problems and pain.

   There are member centers in Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Barbados, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China (Hong Kong), Cyprus, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, France, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, Kosovo UNMIK, Lithuania, Malaysia, Mauritius, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Serbia & Montenegro, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Sri Lanka, St. Vincent & Grenadines, Sweden, Thailand, Trinidad & Tobago, Ukraine, United Kingdom (& ROI), USA and Zimbabwe.

   On the Befrienders website, you can access a list and contact information for centers worldwide.

   Affiliated with the Samaritans (see entry later in this section), the organization provides articles and help to those who are bereaved by suicide, who self-harm, who are subject to bullying, who have issues with sexual orientation and gender identity. It has information and advice about depression, suicidal feelings, the warning signs of suicide, and addresses what to do if you are worried about somebody who is suicidal.

   Go to: Write: International Officer, Samaritans, Upper Mill, Kingston Road, Ewell, Surrey KT17 2AF, United Kingdom.


Centre for Suicide Prevention (CSP)
The CSP is a large English language suicide information resource center and library located in Canada. Although not a crisis center, it has extensive information on suicide prevention, inter-vention and trends. It provides pamphlets, information kits, videos and books helpful to organizations and crisis centers in Canada and the United States. There is a charge for some of the publications.
   If you are afraid someone might be considering suicide, the CSP website suggests questions to ask and things to say to comfort that person.

   Go to: Write: Centre for Suicide Prevention, Suite 320, 1202 Centre Street, SE, Calgary, Alberta B T2G 5A5 Canada. Phone: 403-245-3900.


Daniel W. Clark
Clinical psychologist Daniel W. Clark teaches suicide intervention courses for the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation (ICISF). These courses are geared toward first responders, law enforcement officers, firefighters, peer supporters, and therapists. I attended one of his courses and came away with a great deal of information and enlightenment. If you have the opportunity to attend his courses, Dr. Clark is an excellent presenter.

   His website contains lots of information concerning suicide, suicide survivors, and suicide intervention.
   Go to: Phone: 360-786-0292. E-mail:


The National Police Suicide Foundation (NPSF)
The mission of the National P.O.L.I.C.E. Suicide Foundation is to provide suicide awareness and prevention training programs and support services that will meet the psychological and spiritual needs of emergency workers and their families. Through quarterly membership newsletters the organization provides information on suicide support group services, seminars, counseling hot lines, statistics, and provide a means of supportive communication for survivors.

   In particular, Robert E. Douglas Jr.’s Police Suicide Awareness Training Program, and books titled Hope Beyond the Badge, and Death With No Valor are excellent resources.
   Go to: E-mail:


The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a 24-hour, toll-free suicide prevention service available to anyone in suicidal crisis. After you dial the number below, you will be routed to the closest crisis center. With over 120 crisis centers across the US, their mission is to provide immediate assistance. They encourage you to call about yourself or about someone you care about. The call is free and confidential.
   Go to: Phone toll-free: 800-273-8255. You can also call 800-800-784-2433.


The Samaritans
For over forty years, The Samaritans have helped people in crisis. As well as offering crisis services, the organization provides training for volunteers. Although it is based in the UK, associated groups have formed in the U.S. and other countries, and people from all over the world use its 24-hour suicide prevention e-mail service.

   Many people find it easier to express themselves using computers than talking on the telephone. Please be aware that a response is not provided immediately, but within a day.

   Go to: For online response, e-mail:

   Please Note: Anyone in any country at any time can email the samaritans for help.

   In an emergency, phone The Samaritans UK: 08457 90 90 90 or in the Republic of Ireland: 1850 60 90 90. For information, write: Chris, P.O. Box 9090, Stirling, FK8 2SA UK.

   The Samaritans are also in the U.S. at: Write: Samaritans USA, PO Box 5228, Albany, NY 12205. Phone Helpline at: 518-689-4673. E-mail: samaritans@

   See also: Befrienders Worldwide earlier in this section for hotlines in many countries and US states.


Suicide Awareness\Voices of Education (SAVE™)
SAVE’s mission is to educate about suicide and to speak for suicide survivors. The website focuses on the symptoms of depression as danger signs for suicide. It describes some of the misconceptions about suicide and offers suggestions on how to help someone who is depressed or suicidal. Please see the Depression Checklist provided by SAVE in Appendix 6.
   Go to: Write: SAVE, 8120 Penn Avenue S., Suite 470, Bloomington, MN 55431. Phone: 952-946-7998. Toll-free hotline: 800-273-8255.


Survivors of Law Enforcement Suicide (SOLES)
In 1989, Teresa Tate lost her police officer husband to suicide and had no where to turn. Not wanting anyone else to feel so abandoned, she created the SOLES support group. An experienced survivor, she offers support and information to people who are suffering this terrible loss.

   As well as comforting people who contact her, she publishes a newsletter, provides the names of suicide support groups across the country and teaches people how to create their own support groups. She is active in the organization called Tears of a Cop (TOAC). See website information for TOAC later in this section.

   Write: Teresa Tate, 2708 SW 48th Terrace, Cape Coral, FL 33914. Phone: 941-541-1150.


Survivors of Suicide (SOS)
The person who commits suicide is not the only tragedy. The people left behind die a thousand times asking themselves why it happened. The purpose of the Survivors of Suicide website is to help those who have lost a loved one to suicide resolve their grief and pain. This site provides a safe place for survivors and friends of survivors to share their struggle and pain and offer comfort and understanding to others who have experienced a similar loss. Among other resources on this website are help topics such as Understanding Suicide, Beyond Understanding, How to Help a Survivor Heal, and a directory of SOS support groups.
   Go to:


Tears of a Cop
Cheryl Rehl-Hahn’s brother killed himself. He was a police officer with the Philadelphia PD, and ever since his death, Cheryl has been asking herself why he did it and what could we do to prevent it from happening to other officers. This website is dedicated to his memory and promotes awareness of the epidemic of police PTSD and suicide. The site offers resources, interviews, articles, books, and information on PTSD and Critical Incident Stress Debriefing techniques.
   Go to: E-mail Cheryl at: badge