Suicides of local public safety officers highlight pressures of job
The suicides all occurred in the past two months, drawing attention to the unique pressures faced by public safety professionals:
- Greg O’Dell, former police chief for Eastern Michigan University, committed suicide two days before Christmas last month. O’Dell, who had recently left the same position at the University of Michigan Department of Public Safety, reportedly kept his depression from all but his wife and a close friend.
- Daniel Armitage, an Ann Arbor firefighter, died after being struck by at least three vehicles on Interstate 696 Jan. 5 in Farmington Hills while apparently changing a tire. His death was later ruled a suicide, and his wife was hospitalized with injuries she said were suffered from domestic abuse.
- An on-duty border patrol agent was found dead of an apparent suicide Jan. 10 in a parking lot at Oakwood Southshore Medical Center in Trenton.
Statistics suggest that police officers suffer higher rates of deaths by suicide than firefighters and military personnel. Rates for white, working-age men — a demographic that typifies public safety — had Michigan’s highest per-capita suicide rate of 20.4 in 2009, the last year for which data are available.
Experts say people face a stigma in admitting they’re suicidal to others. And many police and fire agencies have a culture where opening up about personal problems is discouraged.
Read The Detroit News article.
Resources exist in Washtenaw County for people who may be experiencing thoughts of suicide. Anyone in that circumstance is urged to get immediate help. 1-800-273-TALK (8255) is a 24-hour National Suicide Prevention Hotline (Military veterans press #1 ). 734-662-2222 Ozone House is a 24 hour hotline for youth. 734-996-4747 is a 24-hour hotline at U of M Psychiatric Emergency Services.