by Cynthia Flores/Asianjournal.com
LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Police Commission revealed in a report on March 26 that more LA police commit suicide than die in the line of duty. The study of police psychologists reported that 19 Los Angeles police officers killed themselves between 1998 and 2007, while only seven died in the line of duty. Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young adults, after accidents and homicides in the US.
Kevin Jablonski, Chief Psychiatrist for the LAPD, pinned the high suicide rates on the mental anguish that comes from policing dangerous streets.
“When you interact day after day, hour after hour with either the victims of crime or the perpetrators of crime, you start thinking this world is dangerous, this world is violent,” he said. “It’s depressing.”
However the suicide rate among Los Angeles officers has decreased more than 20 percent since 1998, when the department pushed to increase suicide prevention services. Jablonski said more needs to be done to make sure officers know treatment is available for conditions that lead to suicide, such as depression and alcoholism.
Public teaching and suicide
Sadly, Filipinos are not exempted from the affliction. A few months ago, the city of Baltimore was stunned by the successive suicides of two Filipino public school teachers.
Fe Bolado, 26, and Irenea Conato Apao, 41, died six months apart. On May 2007, Bolado hanged herself with an extension cord after cutting her wrist while Apao died in an apparent overdose of antidepressants.
According to investigations, both women did not leave a note behind to reveal why they felt suicide was the only option. What is certain is that both arrived in this country with expectations for brighter futures and both left the world with broken dreams and broken hearts.
“In the aftermath of the suicides, groups such as the Baltimore Teachers Union and the Philippine Embassy have reached out to the city’s Filipino teachers. School system administrators started doing more to promote the free counseling program that’s offered,” a newspaper reported.
Dr. Benedicto Borja, a Filipino Associate Director of the Psychiatric Residency Training Program at Sheppard Pratt and University of Maryland Medical Center offered to help in counselling.
Seeking mental health care is “a sign of weakness in our culture,” Borja said. “It’s unthinkable. The thinking in the Philippines is, ‘Snap out of it, you’ve got your whole family.’ But Filipinos should learn to overcome their reluctance to reach out for help. We can’t just ignore the fact that two people have lost their lives. We have to, I wouldn’t say, change the culture but I would say, enlighten the culture.”
Filipino pastor Chito Cordero of Word International Ministries says that the pressures of migration are complex and result to feelings of helplessness.
“High expectations and low energy levels equal high stress,” Pastor Chito explained. “Without a support group, the new immigrant’s energy is not being replenished. People are left to themselves with a diminishing sense of energy complicated by fear, loneliness and anxiety. The key is to connect with a church family with whom they can find strength and hope in God. Being among their peers with whom they can pour out their anxieties and express their problems can help them better cope with life. A church community is a place where you can find strength, encouragement, and love. As you feel cared for, feelings of extreme loneliness will be prevented together with the sense of hopelessness that leads to suicidal tendencies.”