A very interesting article written by my colleague: Jason Wilterdink
In our modern American society everyone is aware of health risks and factors such as cholesterol, diabetes, healthy eating, and exercise. Whether you take responsibilities for these aspect’s of your life or not is another matter, but American’s at least have some knowledge of these factors.
In America we are aware of and consumed by violence. Stories of soldiers who were killed in action and fallen Police Officers make big news. Stories of murder, battery, assaults, rape, and violence are broadcast all over every form of media available.
What most soldiers, cops, medical professionals, dispatchers and citizens are unaware of is true mental health. They are unaware of how to truly exercise their mental health, risk factors, and they are unaware of the diet their emotions and mind consumes each day. Think I don’t have my facts straight? Hold on tight, I am about to reveal dirty little secrets to you that should cause a paradigm shift.
FACT: According to FBI statistics 100-200 (average is 150) cops are killed every year by felonious assault and on duty accidents / injuries (www.nationalcops.com www.officerdown.com www.officer.com http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/ucr )
FACT: Neither the FBI nor any government organization tracks Law Enforcement Officers who commit or try to commit suicide
FACT: A ruling of suicide can be difficult to ascertain. If a person dies of an overdose and there is no suicide letter was it accidental or intentional?
FACT: www.tearsofacop.com says that 300 cops commit suicide each year
FACT: www.thepainbehindthebadge.com says that suicide is the #1 killer of American Police Officers
FACT: www.heavybadge.com and www.psf.org (the police suicide foundation) are two of the best kept secrets about police suicide. No one wants to talk about this or admit it exists, it is real and you should investigate it for yourself
FACT: There are reports of more soldiers committing suicide in a single month than what have been killed in an entire year in Afghanistan or Iraq (poke around the internet – these stories are everywhere)
This should scare you and it should piss you off! It does both to me. Our soldiers, cops, medical professionals and dispatchers are some of the best people in our country. They are the bravest, most moral, ethical, kind, and heroic people in our country. Yet what is happening to them causes more of them to kill themselves than the “enemy” or the “bad guys” ever could. What is worse is that politicians and people who know this dirty secret hide it out of shame.
We need leadership! The leadership and courage to acknowledge and admit there is a problem. The leadership and courage to research the problem. The leadership and courage to teach people about the problem. The leadership and courage to fix the problem.
We need to learn how to “dial down”. This is a term I have taken from the MHC – the Military Healing Center out of Canada. The MHC has developed a program called MBV – or meditation breathing and visualization. Before you laugh listen up! I am a tough guy and a macho guy. I have attended every cool kick-ass macho tough guy class I can afford, and I will continue to do so for decades to come. It is hard for me to admit that the job gets to me. I am “normal” because of it. I admit I have started to use some portion of the MBV program daily. I sleep better, I think more clearly, and I function better because of it! If you want to call me a name which is synonymous with being wimpy or not macho go ahead. If you can’t openly admit that you can benefit from MBV go ahead. But the statistics say you are hiding a secret.
You see if 300 to 450 cops each year are willing to kill themselves how many more are depressed but not suicidal? How many are angry, sad, depressed, upset, frustrated, or disillusioned? How many of them have had their emotional state negatively affect their life, their marriage, their family, and their career?
No one taught me how to dial down before I started my career! Sure we “talked” about stress, but no one had the tools to teach me to deal with it. The next observation I make is the people who are the best at high speed tactical environments are most at risk. If you want to call these people “the best” at tactics go ahead, I would agree, but I do not want to risk insulting the Officers and soldiers among us who are less tactical (SWAT cops and tactical instructors vs. DARE cops and DARE teachers for example / or Spec-Ops soldiers fighter pilots and infantry soldiers vs. support soldiers who are “in the rear with the gear”).
Every soldier, cop, dispatcher, medical services provider, firefighter, and air traffic controller needs to learn how to dial down! But us people who are more macho, more dominant, more Alpha, and who have taught ourselves how to process lots of information very rapidly in rapidly unfolding life or death situations need this stuff the most! We need to learn how to let go, relax, be still, and take information one kernel at a time instead of burning the entire bag of popcorn.
Dialing down is as important and maybe more important than learning tactics, how to shoot, and how to fight! Dialing down is a tool that is as important or more important than all the crap carried on a cop’s batman belt or a soldier’s kit!
Several Resources I recommend:
MBV can be purchased from America’s Modern Knights at www.americasmodernknights.com
The book “Emotional Survival for Law Enforcement” or the seminar by Retired Officer Kevin Gilmartin PhD can be purchased from www.emotionalsurvival.com
Additional information on this phenomena and seminars, training, and resources can be obtained from:
I have attended the Emotional Survival for Law Enforcement seminar and The Pain Behind the Badge seminar. Emotional Survival for Law enforcement and the MBV program are now required for any student in my Healthy Lifestyles for Law Enforcement class. I recommend these resources highly. My soon to be released book; Healthy Lifestyles For Law Enforcement will outline a holistic approach including mindset, diet, exercise, sleep, emotional survival, and dialing down. I also look forward to other dialing down products and service offered by the MHC.
Let’s cut through the pain, the silence, and the shame! Let’s courageously expose this horrible dark secret. Let’s fix this problem. Suicide, depression, mental health disease, heartache and suffering should not be this big of a problem among our countries heroes! These people all passed the most grueling application process, training, and psychological tests in order to serve and help others. It is clear that they are not the problem. It is clear that something has happened to them and it is likely work related. Please join me in any shape or form you wish. Please educate yourself, do your own research, learn, and grow!
Strength and Valor,
About the Author: Jason Wilterdink was an EMT in Wisconsin (EMT license 52283) for 5 years. Jason Wilterdink has worked with and handled a volunteer Search and Rescue K9. Jason Wilterdink has worked in full time Law Enforcement for over 12 years, he is a Criminal Justice instructor, SFST instructor, ethics instructor, and a tactical instructor. Jason Wilterdink has served a one-year United States Department of State contract as CIVPOL (CIVillian POLice) assigned to the United Nations Mission In Liberia (UNMIL) – West Africa. Jason Wilterdink is the owner of America’s Modern Knights LLC.