Mental Health, Suicide Remain A Problem In Law Enforcement

This past weekend, a McKinney police officer became the latest North Texas law enforcement officer to die by suicide.

Nationwide, advocacy group 'Blue H.E.L.P' estimates 31 officers have taken their own lives in 2019.

It's a problem that many officers and mental health experts believe is bolstered by a stigma surrounding depression, PTSD and other mental health issues that can be difficult to discuss.

In the summer of 2018, Dallas County Sheriff's Deputy Homero Calderon took his own life after a long battle with depression, according to his family. And just days after his death, his widow Sharonda Calderon, sat down with NBC 5 to discuss the challenges her husband faced.

"He let me know what he was feeling on the day he left me, he let me know he was sad," Calderon said.

Depression was not something she said her husband liked to discuss. An accomplished and respected Sheriff's Deputy, she said he was proud of what he did for a living but she also believes it was taking a toll.

"He said I'm supposed to be a police officer protecting other people and I don't even feel worthy of that," she said. "Don’t just see my husband, see the disease, this is a disease and it is real and it will take you out before you know it."

Some recent studies cited by the National Alliance on Mental Illness suggest that as many as one in four police officers will at some point consider suicide.

Doctor John Burruss, a clinical psychiatrist and CEO of mental health provider Metrocare, said the repeated emotional trauma that first responders and police officers are exposed to can impact the brain detrimentally in multiple ways.

"We know that it will absolutely change your brain to experience trauma and more trauma creates more changes," Burruss said.

Sharonda Calderon is careful not to entirely blame her husband's depression for his death but she has no doubts it played a large role. Increased awareness and conversation, she hopes, will encourage more in law enforcement to seek treatment and perhaps break the stigma that she said remains a problem.

"If you don’t acknowledge these feelings, you will become my husband, it's just a matter of time, it was just a matter of time," Calderon said.

Contact Us