How can agencies help?
The first thing agencies must do is recognize that suicide is a major issue within their organization, and erase the stigma of avoiding the issue or viewing it as a form of weakness that comes with this problem, Douglas said.
The second thing to do, which the DeWitt Police Department had already done, is set up a training class to learn about the connection between law enforcement and suicide.
"[The DeWitt PD] asked us to come out and do this training because they were concerned [about the topic] and had not had a suicide at that time," Douglas said.
In fact, Capt. Mark Petterelli of the DeWitt Police Department called Douglas that same day they lost their veteran to make sure the department had done everything the way they were taught, Douglas said.
"In a Line of Duty (or LOD) death, you know who the suspect is, you know who to focus the anger and the guilt on," he said. "But in a suicide, everybody accepts responsibility."
Douglas emphasized that as long as a police agency knows the signs and symptoms that coincide with suicidal acts, and they took the steps to have all the right programs in play, then there can be no gross negligence; no overlooking the obvious.
"They had done everything they could possibly do," he said.
Furthermore, he does recommend agencies bring family members into the training loop.
"Families need to have this training as much as line officers, the first line supervisor and command staff," he added.
The ratio of suicides committed between the working class population and law enforcement is staggering. Approximately 10 per 100,000 suicides per year take place among the US working group versus 60 per 100,000 among members in law enforcement, according to the NPSF.