Today’s culture and current social momentum has been constructed on the victimization of individuals, groups, beliefs, ideologies, and causes. The simplest of innocence and the unintended can become the focal point of media attention all for the purpose of promoting an agenda while generating market shares and ratings. Long gone are the days of simply reporting news, misery sells and fear motivates. In his famous philosophical lyrics, Glenn Frye reminds all of us, “Crap is king, gives us your dirty laundry” and over the years we’ve witnessed this in the marketing of the police suicide problem.
There is something to be said about drawing attention to a problem when looking to prevent it or to find a solution. However, it is quite another to “market misery” from the pain of others. This can be seen in the ways in which deaths by suicide are treated and prevention efforts are marketed. Funding and recognition are linked and strongly correlated to the ever-increasing numbers. It could appear the hopeless attitude and fatalistic perspective of our suicide victims as finally infected the prevention and intervention paradigm. So, we are in need of a new and different paradigm.
We are addressing this multifaceted phenomenon of first responder suicide at a level never seen before, by evaluating 122 data points of information and evidentiary facts surrounding the death. This in-turn assists us in looking at solutions rather than a number. We are not in the business of “suicide prostitution,” where these tragedies are merely counted and commercialized as a way of bringing attention not to the topic of suicide or its prevention, but to individuals and organizations using these tragedies to market themselves.
Rather, we are in the business of saving lives. We are using the data to find solutions. We are looking for ways to stop this tragedy and to inoculate others against what we coined The Fatal 10 (Download PDF). These are prominent factors noted in the majority of cases of completed suicide collected by the Blue Wall Institute since 2017 (see National Law Enforcement Suicide Mortality Database).
In order to accomplish any meaningful reduction in police suicides we have shifted to an Inoculation Paradigm. Currently, suicides follow the medical disease model. Once the disease is initiated and infects the host, it become more difficult to intervene, treat, and neutralize the infection. Vaccinations and inoculations are the preferred medical protocol. An inoculation protocol for suicide is a preferred treatment methodology.
Continuing down this dangerous road of marketing the misery of others, will produce exactly that… continued misery. If we want to truly reduce these deaths, we must shift from the medical disease model and stop focusing on a number. Meaningful solutions should center around inoculating officers against the Fatal 10. By doing so, we can reduce other negative outcomes that contribute to an increased risk of completed suicide.
About the Authors:
Dr. Olivia Johnson is founder of the Blue Wall Institute, an Air Force veteran, former police officer, and suicidology researcher. Dr. Johnson is a nationally recognized subject expert in police suicide and inoculation efforts and holds the Law Enforcement Psychological Autopsy Certification from the American Association of Suicidology. Dr. Johnson holds a master’s in Criminology and Criminal Justice from the University of Missouri, St. Louis, and a doctorate in Organizational Leadership Management from the University of Phoenix, School of Advanced Studies. Dr. Johnson previously worked as a Senior Research Associate for the Institute for Intergovernmental Research as a Lead Instructor for the VALOR Officer Safety Program and was the Program Advisor and Lead Instructor for the Suicide Awareness for Law Enforcement Officers Program and Co-Author of Practical Considerations for Preventing Police Suicide(Springer Publications, 2021). Email correspondence: [email protected]
Dr. Jorey L. Krawczyn has an extensive career extending over 50 years in law enforcement, forensic psychology, and teaching. His law enforcement experience ranges from deep-undercover narcotics investigations to the administrative duties of Chief of Police (Retired). He served three years as a Senior Police Psychologist for the US Department of Justice: ICITAP, assigned to Kyrgyzstan, Kosovo and Tanzania and five years as the Academic Director for the US Department of State’s International Law Enforcement Academy. Dr. Krawczyn is an adjunct faculty member at Saint Leo University, Department of Criminal Justice Graduate Studies. He is a research analyst with Blue-Wall Institute and a co-author of “Practical Considerations for Preventing Police Suicides,” (Springer Publications 2021). He has testified as an Expert Witness in twenty-two State and Federal Court cases on police behaviors, police testing methodologies, and violent offenders. Dr Krawczyn is a regular psychological consultant to Nancy Grace’s Crime-Line broadcasts having appeared on over 40 episodes in the last year. He holds a Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice Administration, one Master’s in Human Development, a second Masters in Instructional Design and a Doctorate in Counseling Psychology. Email correspondence: [email protected]