Urban police officers face an almost unprecedented level of stress on the job. They witness traumatic and deadly events in the line of duty, including murder, rape, burglary and other violent offenses. Algonquin worker comp lawyers are familiar with the consequences of these tough working conditions. Even veteran officers are liable to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder if their experiences on the street are too overwhelming for them to handle alone.
Constant trauma for police officers
Most people who face trauma on the job are facing an unusual situation that is unlikely to repeat itself. Hotel staff may need to deal with a building fire, and flight attendants may need to manage an emergency landing and evacuation, but these problems are rare and do not often recur. Police officers can expect to see violence and disturbing scenes until the day they retire. The stress of inner-city police work can be equal to the stress of combat. According to the National Study of Police Suicides, 126 active police officers committed suicide during 2012. In many cases, this tragic outcome can be traced to the effects of work-related post-traumatic stress disorder.
Attempts to cope with job-related stress
Many police veterans develop coping mechanisms to deal with the difficulties of their job. Some of these mechanisms are healthy, while others may be undesirable or even destructive. The following negative behaviors are characteristic of post-traumatic stress disorder among police officers:
- Withdrawal from family and friends
- Refusal to seek counseling or take a break from work, even when functioning is compromised
- Abuse of drugs or alcohol
- Unwillingness to speak about negative experiences on the job
- Deliberately seeking more and more intense levels of danger
All of these coping mechanisms, which are well known to Algonquin worker comp lawyers, can have adverse effects on the health and life of law enforcement officers.
U.S. police departments are reaching out to officers
Post-traumatic stress disorder among police officers is no longer a taboo topic. As America’s streets begin to resemble a war zone in some locations, police departments and medical providers are recognizing the toll taken on the lives of law enforcement professionals. Many police departments have begun offering counseling and debriefing programs to help their staff work through the events they witness and participate in.
If you are a police officer who is struggling with PTSD, it may be helpful to meet with Algonquin worker comp lawyers to learn more about your rights and options.