KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Missouri’s U.S. senators, Roy Blunt and Josh Hawley, have introduced a bill to track the number of law enforcement officers who take their own lives. Kansas City Police Chief Rick Smith says he supports the legislation.
Nationally, in recent years, more police officers have taken their own lives than those shot and killed in the line of duty. In February, a Kansas City detective took their own life, the fourth time in four years KCPD has lost an officer to suicide.
The Law Enforcement Suicide Data Collection Act would require the FBI to track suicides and attempted suicides among police agencies so that lawmakers can better develop policy solutions.
Chief Smith is advocating for a psychiatrist on staff to work only with police officers.
“If there’s something that is predictable, then it can be preventable,” said Sergeant Jacob Becchina, a police official. “We have a national database for patterns, trends, numbers, all of those things associated with police officer suicide. Then we can begin the process of predicting it and then we can hopefully end on a good, high-quality prevention.”
Many major city police agencies have their own psychiatrists on staff. Los Angeles has 17 mental health professionals. Smith believes having one would go a long way toward easing the traumas experienced in the largest law enforcement agency in Missouri.
The senators say our country lost at least 167 officers to suicide last year. First responders are five times more likely to experience post traumatic stress and depression.
If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, you can reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255 or click on this link for online chat.