Every Year is a 12-Round Fight

By David Magnusson  |   Feb 7, 2020

Get help when you need it and have a strong corner.

This article has a tinge of philosophy. Make no mistake about it: my master’s degree is in military history. Sure, I dabbled in a bit of philosophy in the past, but I backed away from it as quickly as a cop coming upon an explosive device. So, you won’t find any Goethe or Kierkegaard in this article. But you may find something to give you a bit of guidance or solace moving forward.

Law enforcement’s largest issue.

Although there are many issues in American law enforcement, I believe one stands leaps and bounds above the others. If we don’t get a handle on it soon and make an effort to improve where we currently stand, the prognosis will almost definitely get worse.

In 2018, 172 law enforcement officers took their own lives.

That is an incredibly high number.

In 2019, that figure jumped to 228, a number that’s believed to be underreported. That’s a 32.5% increase and representative of the fourth straight year in which police suicides outnumbered line-of-duty deaths.

New York had the highest number of incidents, followed by California, Texas, and Florida. 90% of those who took their own lives were male.

One in four of these individuals had over 20 years on the job. This tells us that the stressors do not go away with time if they are handled improperly.

It should be noted that the life expectancy for law enforcement officers is already lower than the overall population. Couple that with a rate of PTSD/depression that is five times higher than the general public and you’ll begin to understand the challenges before us.

A positive approach.

This article does not intend to provide answers to the issues that may be causing someone pain.  A certified medical/mental health professional is the appropriate person for that.  Nevertheless, I am hoping that this article can prompt you to seek assistance if you need it. If you don’t need it, maybe it will prompt you to help someone you’re worried about seek some assistance.

There are a lot of professionals out there who can provide ways to successfully deal with accumulated, unresolved stress and trauma. Furthermore, resources stemming from the Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act of 2017 may be able to help those who need them.

“Mindfulness” training is an emerging tool for struggling officers which has shown signs of success. It provides skills that allow an individual to deal with an issue in the present moment without the emotional reaction. It is surely worth researching further.

The phone number of the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is (800) 273-8255. Everyone, regardless of their current conditions and situations, should save this number in their phones. It is a 911 number to dial before, Lord forbid, you need to dial 911.

A final word.

I used the following bit of personal philosophy in a morning tweet on New Year’s Day. I think some may find it beneficial here as well:

“No one ever thought or knew on January 1st of any given year that this was going to be the best year of their life. Conversely, no one ever thought or knew on January 1st that this would be the worst year of their life.”

The thing is, we have no way of knowing how this year will turn out. Heck—we can’t even be certain what tomorrow will bring. What we do know is that each year is a twelve-round fight. With the proper corner, you can learn to bounce back from a rough round and stay even-keeled (following a strategy) after a good one.

It’s early enough in this fight to reverse these climbing trends. But we must fight together to make that happen.

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David Magnusson

David Magnusson

Magnusson is the chief of police for the Village of El Portal Police department. Prior to this, he was police chief of the Havelock (N.C.) Police Department. He also spent 30 years with the Miami Police Department, retiring there as a major. Magnusson is a graduate of American Military University with a Master's in Military history. Chief Magnusson also boxed as an amateur for twenty-six years. You will find his passion for history and boxing in many of his writings. Magnusson and his wife Rosa reside in South Florida, where they have five children and two grandkids.
David Magnusson

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