Police Suicides Are Up Again! Why?


Show Your Support For Those Who Protect You.

This article by Steve Warneke is a truly important and enlightening read.

To all the detractors of police officers and those in the media who jump at a “hot story” without regard for consequences or the ill effect it has on those who keep our communities safe…consider this article. It’s been said many a time in many different ways: “before you judge me, walk a mile in my boots”.

If you have the capacity to empathize, then read this article, truly take it in and consider how uncomfortable those boots actually are.

The easy answer for the ignorant and callous is that officers knew what they signed up for from the start. The reality is that no one truly “knows” until they have walked that long and lonely path for any significant time. In time the path gets more tiring, takes a greater toll on mind, body and soul and becomes a very desolate place. Although there are thousands of others walking the same path, most feel they are alone and fear seeking out companionship and support; seeking help feels like disarming yourself in wartime. This mentality has been bread into police officers since Sir Robert Peel; into soldiers since the first war; and into humankind since the Stone Age.

Police officers (and other First Responders) learn to become hardened pillars for society - but those pillars wear down and start to crumble in time. In the end they are just as human as those they protect. We pride ourselves in our strengths and bravely help others in need but are horrible at seeking help for ourselves.

It’s time to evolve. Look to your brother and sister officers and to your communities as a whole and seek support; do not be afraid to ask for help - do not turn away from those who are brave enough to do so either.

It’s also high time for our leaders to admit their past mistakes, show a human face and learn what being apologetic means to those receiving an honest apology.

It may seem the media hates police - but the bottom line is they tell the worst of the stories to improve viewership and ratings. Despite how this slanted media attention makes them feel, officers must remember that the silent majority IS out there, quietly supporting them. It’s high time for that silent majority to make noise and show their support.

Show Your Support For Those Who Protect You.

Join the Positivity Campaign - Visit WWW.Stigma.Life - purchase and display a We Are STIGMA Window Decal or Lapel Pin.

Join us in Standing Together Inspiring Greater Mental-health Awareness.

We Are S.T.I.G.M.A.!

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Support the Positivity Campaign - Display a Decal

The We Are S.T.I.G.M.A. Positivity Campaign needs your support to succeed. Buy a “Support First Responders’” Decal or “We Are STIGMA” Lapel Pin and display them. This is an inexpensive and effective way to show all First Responders that you appreciate their work and sacrifice; Your support does help.

We Are S.T.I.G.M.A. = We Are Standing Together Inspiring Greater Mental-health Awareness.


Decals and Pins available at WWW.STIGMA.LIFE

Donations also welcome.

Thank you.

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We Are S.T.I.G.M.A.!

We Are Standing Together Inspiring Greater Mental-health Awareness!

It’s Bell Let’s Talk Day - The perfect time for First Responders and Citizens alike to unite. Everybody tweet, text and share the Bell Lets Talk message to help raise money for mental health awareness.


First Responders face tragedy and risk every day; causing mental injuries, including PTSD. These heroes need your support every day. Send your own message and show your First Responders you care by displaying a “Support First Responders” Vehicle Window Decal or “We Are STIGMA” Lapel Pin. Available at WWW.STIGMA.LIFE.

Everyone can help to eradicate the stigma of mental illness/injury…have you done your part?


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“Silence Like a Cancer Grows” (Paul Simon)

The silence about stigma is deafening in the world of First Responders It’s time to break the silence. First Responders, demonstrate to your brothers and sisters that you are there for them. Citizens, you too can show your First Responders they are not alone. Share this message…then buy and display We Are S.T.I.G.M.A. Window Decals and Lapel Pins - available at WWW.STIGMA.Life.

Image by Dan Sun Photos ( www.dansunphotos.com )

Image by Dan Sun Photos (www.dansunphotos.com)

They Start So Proud; An Exciting New Career...So Full Of Hope...

What happens to our Police Officers, Paramedics and Firefighters as their careers progress? So many become cynical, negative and sadly, suicidal. Why?

It’s really no mystery.

They started their careers bright eyed and keen and all understood the risks…or did they? They knew that their jobs put them in peril and that serious bodily harm or death were possibilities, but they trained to prevent such tragedies.

HOWEVER, how many of there rookies knew that there was a likelihood that they would suffer a mental injury? What training did they get to prevent this likelihood? Until very recently the answer to these questions was the same… NONE. They were expected to experience horrific scenes and take significant risks, then just shrug them all off. Sadly, each one of these events chipped away at many of them and little by little changed them - damaged them; sometimes irreparably.

First Responder recruits have always trained for dangerous possibilities but this Mental Injury likelihood was in an enormous blind spot. Today there is no reason for ignorance of any sort when it comes to PTSD ,or other Mental Injuries, in the world of First Responders (or anywhere). Recognizing the hazards before they face them will help; managing them head on as they come is their emergency defence. Eliminate the stigma of Mental Injury and Mental Illness and open up the dialogue.

We Are S.T.I.G.M.A.

Purchase We Are S.T.I.G.M.A. “Support First Responder” Window Decals and We Are S.T.I.G.M.A. Lapel Pins to show your support for those who protect you. Available at WWW.STIGMA.LIFE

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Merry Christmas to All - We Are Here to Help Keep You Safe at Christmas and Always

On Christmas Eve in 1988, while I was operating the R.I.D.E. program in Aurora, Ontario, a young family pulled up to our spot check; a mom, dad and two young boys as I recall. One of the boys walked up to me and gave me a can of Coke, a Mars Bar and a Christmas card and thanked me for my service. I was pleasantly surprised and thanked him. They didn’t stick around to talk - they just wanted to say thanks, make their delivery and move on to the next first responders they could find. All of this was explained in their Christmas card. This family made a point of delivering this small gift every year - parents teaching their children an important lesson, ensuring they understood that their first responders worked at all times to keep them safe. Such a simple and wonderful act. I never forgot this.

This is the idea behind the Positivity Campaign. The reality is that very few first responders will complete their career without suffering some degree of mental injury. The small act of displaying a STIGMA Window Decal or Lapel Pin sends a loud message to your first responders that you appreciate their sacrifice. Buy a Decal or Pin today to show your support.

Have a very Merry Christmas and Holiday Season and a healthy and prosperous New Year.

Thank you for your support,

Christopher Reid, President/Director We Are S.T.I.G.M.A.

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We Must Never Forget - a short read for a worthwhile cause.

We must never forget those, who in defending their communities, countries and allies, died or suffered devastating physical or mental injury - and every survivor was hurt in some way. Their sacrifice is something we need to remember every day, but please take a moment on this 100th anniversary of the end of the first Great War, to give thanks for their sacrifices.

Please stop for just 2 minutes, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, to contemplate their reality, both during and after this and all other wars fought to protect our democracy; and hope for perpetual peace in the very near future. Thank you to our lost hero’s and veterans current and past. We will never forget. 

We Are STIGMA (www.stigma.life) 


“To you from failing hands we throw the torch”

Expose the Silent Majority! Support First Responders!!

Join the Positivity Campaign for First Responders. Demonstrate your support with a window decal or lapel pin. The fact is most people quietly support these everyday heroes, despite what may be portrayed in the media. It’s time for the silent majority to show their support for those who run toward the dangers that face our world. Visit “Buy Support Products” on our website www.Stigma.life.


PTSD Effects Us All...It's High Time for Real Change

Last week, BC MPP Todd Doherty spoke emotionally about the PTSD driven suicide death of Strathcona County (Alberta) Firefighter Darren Anderson. It was a very poignant moment to witness a member of our federal government bring this difficult issue into parliament and in such an emotional way. It would be nice to see all levels of government and emergency service leaders work with our first responders, particularly those who have had to live with PTSD, to come up with a plan that actually works and prevents such future tragedies. We know we may never be able to stop all PTSD related suicides…but we need to do much better than we have. It’s high time to try a completely new approach.

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We Need Open Communication in All Directions

Catastrophes described in Christie Blatchford's report (click here) must be avoided at all costs. 

It seems there is a mad dash to get officers and other first responders back to work despite their obvious inability, due to mental injuries/mental illness.  It's time we put ego, compensation and reintegration concerns aside and focus on truly helping first responders, who are suffering with mental illness, on their path to recovery. 

Recovery may never mean they are “whole”, but a "new normal" can be achieved and from this, reintegration and meaningful work may be possible...without endangering those suffering or their coworkers. 

Failure to manage these issues properly will lead to suicides, ruined lives and costly law suits.  If it comes down to money, as it always appears to, one has to ask "are we saving money by forcing the issue of return to work (etc...) if we lose more in the law suits and grievances that follow?".  These cases represent public money being mismanaged; and first responder lives being lost.

I hope the officers compensated in this matter (the ones who tried to help the officer who clearly needed their support) are not punished for doing the right thing.  Hats off to them all.  Managers, take the lessons learned (in this and other cases) without grudge and move on.  Those compensated officers will likely make great leaders - it's much harder to lead from the ground than on high. 

It's time senior managers "drop the gloves" for the purpose of a meaningful handshake with the suffering rank and file, as opposed to a punch bolstered by the power of their high rank; make open communication truly possible.

Never forget that in the end, rank aside, we are all public servants.   



This day showed the world the sacrifices first responders make...on a daily basis.

Thank a first responder today...

On this, the anniversary of the horrific September 11th, 2001, terror attack on our US neighbours and allies lets remember:

The sacrifices of the first responders lost that day;

Those responders who were lost from resulting disease thereafter;

Those brave souls who lost themselves in the aftermath;

The unfathomable damage to the family members of all those heroes affected.

Lets also remember, that although this day will be forever etched in our minds, those acts of selfless bravery we witnessed, sadly, occur daily in our world - on a smaller scale yes, but daily just the same; and it takes a toll.

Thank a first responder today.  


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We Are STIGMA Positivity Campaign – Let Them Know You See Their Good Deeds

Our First Responders all face horrific realities in the course of their duties.  We have seen all too often how such events have taken their toll on these heroes.  We Are STIGMA believes all First Responders and Citizens need to recognize the harsh reality of line-of-duty Mental Injuries and show outward support for those suffering, in an effort to ease their suffering and to work toward the elimination of the stigma associated to Mental Injury. 

In recent years first responders have been the subjects of reports in the media for neglect, sexual harassment and criminal allegations.  While certainly some of these cases have merit, most are reported as concluded facts, long before investigations are complete or a court process begins.  It is not the position of We Are STIGMA to understate legitimate complaints.  However, it is the experience of many first responders, that there has been a media frenzy, feeding on allegations made toward a very small group of their peers; overshadowing the amazing everyday work of their organizations and brothers/sisters in service.

Police officers have clearly borne the brunt of this negativity but it’s not difficult to find troubling news stories relating to Paramedics or Firefighters.

First Responders deal in human tragedy on a daily basis and are called to service in the worst circumstances – even with the best training and efforts, mistakes are going to happen.  In addition, no matter how well these agencies vet applicants, there will always be a few poor candidates that get through the cracks in the recruiting process.  

Despite these unavoidable issues, your amazing emergency service workers do heroic work each and every day and play a very positive role in society through even the simplest of their daily interactions with the public.

The truth is, almost all of our (more than 120,000) full time emergency service workers in Canada are good and brave people who deserve your praise and support; sadly the adverse media reports, that focus on the very few negative cases, takes a toll on these dedicated professionals.  The fallout from such adverse media attention also results in changes in attitudes toward our first responders by certain members of the public who treat these heroes with outward disdain.  Couple this with the mental injuries our emergency service workers face every year and it becomes a very heavy burden to carry.   


We Are STIGMA does not want to hide issues or diminish victims of abuse of authority in any way. However, we do want to see the everyday good and heroic acts of our first responders celebrated by the communities they serve across Canada.  

How can you get involved?  

1) Buy a We Are STIGMA window sticker and display in on your vehicle’s rear window or window/door of your business entrance; this will act as a billboard for all first responders to see that you too believe in the elimination of stigma and support them in their daily heroic efforts.  The more stickers they see the more support they feel on both of these fronts.

2) When you have a positive interaction with a first responder, for any reason, from asking for advice to receiving assistance during a difficult situation, take a few minutes to send a quick email to We Are STIGMA and the first responder’s respective organization to let them know how you were helped.  We Are STIGMA will document your positive input and add it to our upcoming blog page for the world to see.  

3) Buy a We Are STIGMA lapel pin to tell first responders that you stand with them and openly support anyone dealing with mental injury or illness.  For anyone struggling with either of these issues, the lapel pin tells them you are there for them should they need you.

Join the We Are STIGMA effort today…help to eliminate the stigma of Mental Injury and show First Responders you support their daily efforts.  

Thank you! 

What are mental injuries?

What are mental injuries? 

For years, emergency workers have answered the call for a unique type of public service in which running into harm’s way becomes a daily reality.   With this reality, comes the likelihood that these workers will be faced with dangers or disturbing situations to which average citizens are not typically exposed.  Each and every one of these exposures carries the possibility for an accompanying and potentially life-altering mental (psychological) injury.  

What is a mental injury?  Simply put, a mental injury is the brain’s reaction to a troubling situation.  These injuries are frequently generalized as Occupational Stress Injuries (OSIs), which can often be temporal and worked through fairly easily by just talking with a close friend about the issue.  At other times, treatment might be needed through more formalized psychotherapeutic intervention.  Ignoring mental injuries, leaving them untreated and/or allowing them to build over time, can result in more complex problems such as Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  

Historically, front- line emergency service workers have felt the need to ignore the effects of troubling incidents and life-threatening situations (exposures) they have faced and to “soldier on”.  Emergency workers who admitted to suffering the ill-effects of such exposures often found themselves ostracized and considered weak by their peers; ultimately they were stigmatized.  As a result,  the vast majority of emergency workers hid their feelings and often ignored the treatable symptoms of mental injuries.  Many of those who ignored their feelings and symptoms have suffered in silence with depression, anxiety, PTSD and other stress-exposure related disorders.   We now realize that many have tried to cope by using alcohol or drugs as their lives have often spiralled downward.  Long-term impacts have included complete isolation, addiction, marital dissolution, domestic violence and all too often, suicide.

No one seems to question physical injuries, as they are clearly visible and often easy to understand.  Unfortunately, mental injuries are not visible and are certainly not simple to comprehend.   However mental injuries, like physical injuries, such as fractures or infected cuts, can result in complications much worse than the initial issues presented if not treated in a timely fashion.   This comparative understanding illustrates the need for emergency service workers to seek treatment, no matter how simple the treatment may seem, before these mental injuries can fester and devolve into significant disorders that can be much more difficult to treat.  

To underscore, everyone needs to understand that treatment does help; mental injuries do not have to destroy lives; and those suffering with mental injuries are typically highly capable and able to continue their employment, with or without accommodations, while undergoing treatment.   

Strides have been made by emergency services to recognize the presence of mental injuries but much more can be done.  Employers must learn to better understand the effects of mental injuries and work with their effected employees to determine best approaches to help them in their recovery.  Effected employees must not be taken out of the recovery equation through forced accommodations unless absolutely necessary and such necessitated accommodation should be determined with support of psychotherapeutic professionals.    

The simple and most obvious solution to such base issues is one found in an approach rooted in education, dialogue and compassion.   Finding solutions to mental health issues, whether innate or resulting from a mental injury, can only be found in these approaches.

An environment where identified mental injuries are considered issues of weakness, that all too often signify inability and instability to peers and senior administrators, is a work environment rife with negativity and dysfunction.  These false perceptions create a negative stigma and, in turn, impede avenues to prevention and treatment and only serve to limit the potential of our vital, front-line emergency public services. 

Unfortunately this negative environment has been well entrenched in the world of emergency services because of historical and outdated perceptions.  As a result, personal, peer and career stigma has become very significant issue, for emergency service workers everywhere when a mental injury has occurred.  It is time that we change this reality.  It’s time that we tackle this debilitating mental-health based stigma head on, once and for all. 

PTSD Awareness Video

Following the extended military actions in the middle east, a lot of media attention has gone to the care of our service men and women returning home with life-altering injuries. This is a major step for our society, but the invisible wounds of war need treatment as well, and that's why the Camaraderie Foundation was formed.