Over the past coupe days, four Los Angeles County officers took their own lives in four different places in the county and at different times. Why is this happening? Many believe it's the breakdown of the person's ability to reconcile good versus evil. Others believe it's delayed response to layers upon layers of trauma associated with the job, the public outcry, and being unfairly judged. Many suffer silently isolated and alone while others act out with behaviors that are destructive to their marriage and relationships. Some will drink or do drugs trying to drown out the demons in their heads. Much of the trauma is wrapped up with a world view that cannot be reconciled known as Moral Injury. Some first responders face additional trauma from their command staff while others are assaulted (physically, sexually, and emotionally) by their peers. Pile on feelings of doubt, shame, and low self-esteem that can carry over to their loved ones resulting in domestic violence in their home.
As someone who suffered with Post Trauma Stress as a first responder, the road to recovery is not an easy one.
Where are the support services for the ones who are trying to save everyone else? There are limited services or services are offered by clinicians who have little to no experience working with complex trauma and who don't know how to help. So the wounded warrior silently suffers alone.
There is an organization that offers first responders a place of community and where first responders can find emotional support and encouragement, " Developed by Volunteers of America (VOA), VOA|ReST 4 First Responders offers a virtual place for First Responders to speak openly and honestly with peers about the challenges and impact of their work." (rest4firstresponders.com). If you need services in person instead of via Telehealth, call Encouragers and we'll get you connected with one of our therapists who also were first responders. They know firsthand what it means to serve and to live with complex trauma.
Check in on your neighbor, the firefighter, the cop, or the medical professional and invite them to dinner. They need connection, acceptance, and understanding. You may be the link to saving a life simply by the touch of a hand.