Suicide rates for law enforcement officers on the rise
A record number of law enforcement officers died by suicide in 2019, and now a local man is looking to recruit retired officers to help stem the rising tide.
Harvey Morse served 55 years in law enforcement in various capacities, from federal to local and everything in between, and in the last six months, two members of the Valucia County Sheriff’s Office, where he’s still actually sworn in, have taken their lives.
Now that he’s technically retired, he’s trying to find yet another way to serve, and he’s looking for others to join him.
That’s how Morse became interested in CopLine, an organization that provides officers contemplating suicide or suffering from acute PTSD a confidential resource for working through those issues.
“If a law enforcement officer is despondent and contemplating suicide, they can call a hotline number that will be answered 24/7 by a trained and usually retired police officer to help talk that person though it,” Morse said. “The supporter would also, I’d imagine, have the ability to notify law enforcement and do what was necessary if the training permitted it to circumvent the officer committing suicide.”
However, the problem was that the group wanted Morse to travel to the west coast to complete mandatory training to be able to volunteer.
It was then that Morse said, why not provide the service right here in a location more central to areas east of the Mississippi. To bring the folks from CopLine out to conduct training, morse said he’d need to find 20-30 other officers to make it worthwhile.
“Once I get an approximate date and a commitment from them, I will then, either with Sheriff Christopher or on my own, set up a date, place and time for training,” he said.
Morse said it’s important to identify interested volunteers to help combat the problem of police suicides, and he believes he’ll find plenty around Haywood, Buncombe and Jackson Counties, considering the prevalence of retired officers.
“What we need is to identify retired police officers from any branch or service that would be willing to attend the free 40 hours of training on how to deal with suicidal individuals on the phone and then take whatever action is appropriate,” he said.
Anyone interested in taking part in the training and volunteering for the program can email Morse at firstname.lastname@example.org.