‘Ask For Help If You’re Feeling Vulnerable’

POLICE officers shouldn’t be afraid to ask colleagues if they are feeling suicidal, Hampshire Police Federation has said.

Katie Clift, Professional Development Lead for Hampshire Police Federation, was speaking after the Police Federation of England and Wales’ annual conference in Manchester this week.

During a session on mental health and suicide, delegates heard from one officer who had lost three colleagues during his service.

Katie said: “We heard from a retired police officer who again was talking about his journey. He gave a really emotive account of the point he felt he broke, and the harrowing scream of a mother who he took to see her dead son and how that’s lived with him forever. And what came out of it was just a need for that support, to have somebody around you, to have people looking out for you.”

The panel discussed the effects trauma on mental health, looked at officers’ experiences and the support struggling officers need.

Katie added: “It was probably one of the most impactive and emotional inputs I’ve seen since coming to conference.

“The drip effect of all these things that you experience and you see, and then when your cup just becomes so full it overflows. The impact that has on you, both physically and emotionally can be huge.

“For me, the big thing to take away is that work is being done to look at suicide prevention. We are talking about suicide, which we’ve never done before, and it needs to be spoken about openly and freely. The taboo that goes behind that shouldn’t be there anymore.

“Let’s look out for our colleagues. If you see somebody who’s changed, who is displaying signs that they wouldn’t normally see, ask them. Be open, be frank.

“You might feel stupid or look stupid, but if you ask someone if they’re feeling suicidal, actually if you look stupid because they’re not, then brilliant. But if you do and they are, and you’ve potentially saved a life.”

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