Massachusetts Police Officers Take Steps to Stop Suicides Among Their Ranks

April 3, 2017 |

Contact: Alexis O’Brien, PR Director, 347-826-3577, [email protected]

NEW YORK (April 3, 2017) – In 2006, one of the officers who was a member of the Massachusetts Coalition of Police (MASS C.O.P.) died by suicide. He was afraid to seek help because he didn’t want to lose his badge. With over 700 police officers present at the President’s Dinner on Friday, March 31, the MASS C.O.P. President Scott Hovsepian announced that his union, which represents nearly 4,300 police officers in Massachusetts, would be instituting the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s anonymous online screening tool, the Interactive Screening Program, a Self-Check Quiz to reach distressed police officers and help connect them to peer support officers and mental health services before a crisis emerges.

“If this can save one life, it is money, time, and energy well spent. You can’t put a price on a life. If we had had this program in place, we might not have lost our collegue to suicide in 2006,” said Scott Hovsepian, a 23 year police officer for the city of Waltham, MA, and president of MASS C.O.P. “I want police officers nationwide to know that there are tools like the Self-Check Quiz that can help them through the hard times. We are starting with police officers in the Bay State.”

Brian Fleming, the owner and operator of Peer Support Services, LLC., held a four-hour training session in early 2017 for some of Massachusetts’ police officers about mental health education, alcohol and drug abuse, and how to prevent suicide among their colleagues. After the session, he was approached by Hovsepian about doing more. Luckily, years ago Fleming had helped arrange for another Massachusetts police department to contract with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Interactive Screening Program and so he arranged an introduction for the officers from MASS C.O.P. to meet with staff from AFSP to talk about how the foundation could help the union from losing its members to suicide.

“We are honored to be partnering with MASS C.O.P. to offer the Self-Check Quiz to its members. Police officers are accustomed to servicing others, and this is a way for them to ensure they stay healthy and strong,” said Dr. Christine Moutier, AFSP chief medical officer. “Seeking help for your mental health is the brave thing to do.”

The Self-Check Quiz is an online tool offered by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and used by institutions of higher education, workplaces, law enforcement agencies, and Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) to reach distressed people and help connect them to mental health services before a crisis emerges. It is also known as the Interactive Screening Program.

The program expansion to MASS C.O.P. has been made possible by a generous grant from the law firm of Sandulli and Grace.

Those who are interested in bringing the Self-Check Quiz to their precinct can learn more here: https://afsp.org/isp.

About ISP

The Interactive Screening Program (ISP) is an online program utilized by mental health services at institutions of higher education, law enforcement agencies, workplaces, and Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs). ISP provides a safe and confidential way for individuals to take a brief screening for stress, depression, and other mental health conditions, and receive a personalized response from a peer support officer. Since its official launch in 2006, ISP has connected more than 100,000 individuals to mental health services. ISP is listed on the Suicide Prevention Resource Center’s Best Practice Registry for Suicide Prevention. It is also known as the Self-Check Quiz.

About Peer Support Services LLC.

Peer Support Services brings the knowledge of Critical Incident Stress Management and Peer Support to your agency through pre-Incident Education, Suicide Intervention and Prevention techniques and a combined 60 years of law enforcement experience by training your officers up to and including command level on these sensitive issues.

About MASS C.O.P.

Founded in 1979, the Massachusetts Coalition of Police has the distinction as the Commonwealth’s premier union for law enforcement professionals. Our mission is to organize, assist, and advocate for the welfare of our police officers. We accomplish our objectives through careful strategic planning and the coordination of responsible legislative and legal actions. MASS C.O.P. is the largest law enforcement union in Massachusetts. Our focus on the welfare of our police officers has resulted in unprecedented membership growth. We now represent over 4,250 members serving 157 cities and towns in Massachusetts.

About the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide. AFSP creates a culture that’s smart about mental health through education and community programs, develops suicide prevention through research and advocacy, and provides support for those affected by suicide. Led by CEO Robert Gebbia and headquartered in New York, AFSP has local chapters in all 50 states with programs and events nationwide. AFSP celebrates 30 years of service to the suicide prevention movement. Learn more about AFSP in its latest Annual Report, and join the conversation on suicide prevention by following AFSP on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

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