A Suicidal Police Officer:
How I Recovered from my Suicidal Feelings
by Officer Jim and Kevin Caruso
I put the gun to my head and prepared to pull the trigger.
I was tired of life; tired of being a cop; tired of everything.
My life had fallen apart and I wanted to die.
Let me go back to the beginning. Ever since I was a young boy, all I ever dreamed about was becoming a police officer. And I had to put in plenty of blood, sweat, and tears to realize my dream. But what was not part of my dream was the stress that I had to deal with and how it would cause me to become depressed…and eventually, suicidal.
The first few years of being a police officer were amazing. My self-image was strong; I felt respected; and I just loved my job. But eventually the stress started to get to me. People would mouth off to me and I felt like I couldn’t say anything. I got tired of busting my butt and not getting appreciated. And I would see some horrible things that I could not get out of my mind. And I started to feel guilty about some of the arrests that I was making. I began to question my judgment.
And the problems that I was forced to cope with on the job started to overwhelm me. I could not turn my work off when I would get home. In short, I started to get depressed and didn’t know what to do. So, I didn’t do anything. After all, I was a big, tough cop and I could handle a little pressure.
But I started to have mood swings. I would snap at my wife and children over insignificant things. And my job performance was affected. I would argue with other officers, and I would even be rude to some of the people in my community. I just could not seem to control myself. And that scared me. I felt like I was losing control, and as a police officer I needed to be in control. All of the time.
My wife suggested that I get into therapy and I flatly refused. I felt I was too strong for therapy. And I certainly did not want anyone at the department to think I was having mental problems. Therapy was a no go. Period.
I was lost.
I would go to work and just go through the motions. My love for law enforcement was gone. I didn’t even trust myself any longer. I couldn’t seem to think straight. And then thoughts of suicide started creeping into my head. Just out of nowhere I would think about shooting myself in the head. These thoughts would occur on a regular basis, but I never told anyone about them. The last thing I needed was to be thought of as a crazy cop.
I felt I had no one to turn to. I couldn’t tell my fellow officers. I couldn’t tell my friends. I barely talked with my wife about my problems. So I became a ticking time bomb.
I cannot tell you the number of times I wanted to tell people to take a flying leap when they would mouth off to me. Some people think that police officers are some type of super humans and don’t have any feelings. I really felt disrespected, and my anger just kept building and building.
And it seemed that I kept responding to the worst calls imaginable. I hated seeing people who were badly injured or killed. Especially when they were children. I just could not handle my job anymore.
I thought about quitting, but I didn’t know what else I could do. I felt trapped…I was in a job that I hated; my marriage was falling apart; and I felt depressed all of the time. Why go on living?
Suicide seemed like the best way to end my nightmare.
But I wanted it to look like an accident. I wanted to respond to a call and somehow kill myself and not make it look like a suicide. I became obsessed with coming up with different scenarios about how I could pull this off. Maybe a gun battle. A car accident. Or “accidentally” falling to my death as I pursued a suspect.
But I never came up with that “perfect” scenario and my depression worsened, so I just started thinking more about shooting myself in the head. It would be fast and easy. And my depression was so bad that I somehow thought that no one would care…that they would be happy I was dead.
And then one night I snapped. My wife and I had a long argument and I said that I wanted to be alone. So I went up to my bedroom, put my gun to my head, said a prayer and prepared to kill myself.
I sat there for what seemed like an eternity.
I thought that I would pull the trigger quickly and it would all be over. But my mind started to race. I was having second thoughts. And images of my children kept popping into my head.
As this battle in my mind continued, I kept the gun pointed at my head. I didn’t know what to do.
And then there was a knock on the door. I asked who it was, and it was one of my daughters. I put the gun down. She said that she wanted me to help her with her homework. I was in a daze. I just looked at her and told her I would be with her in a few minutes.
I went to the washroom and splashed some cold water on my face. I still felt horrible, but I decided not to kill myself on that day.
I helped my daughter with her homework, watched some TV, and then went to bed.
The next morning, thoughts of suicide were in my mind again. The previous night was difficult and I thought it would be horrible for my wife and children to find my dead body in the house, so I decided to rent a motel room and kill myself there.
I did not have to work that day, so I told my wife that I was going out and then drove to a local motel and rented a room. Upon entering the room I sat down and wrote a suicide note. I thought the note was going to be short, but I just kept writing and writing. I ended up writing a long note to my wife and each of my children.
I placed the notes on the table and then got my handgun.
But I just stared at the gun. I thought the suicide was going to be fast, but doubts kept creeping into my head. So I started to play games with myself. I unloaded the gun, put the gun to my head and pulled the trigger. I just kept pulling the trigger, like I was practicing.
After doing this several times, I felt I was ready. So I loaded my gun and put the gun to my head.
I wanted to pull the trigger so badly. But something kept me from doing it. I don’t know what, but I just could not pull the trigger when the gun was loaded. So I put the gun down and began to pace the floor. I felt like a caged animal at that point. I just kept walking and walking…and thinking.
After several hours, I decided to throw away the suicide notes. Being a police officer, I wanted to ensure that no one could ever read them, so I tore them into the smallest pieces of paper imaginable. I just kept ripping and ripping.
Then I went home.
I was dazed for the rest of the day. My wife tried talking to me but I was unresponsive. I just sat on the couch and stared at the TV.
The next morning I finally opened up a little bit with my wife. I told her that I hadn’t been feeling good. We talked for a long time, and I was quickly reminded what a wonderful woman I was married to.
For some reason, this time I actually listened to her when she told me to get into therapy. So that day I made an appointment for the first time in my life to see a therapist.
A couple of days later I got into therapy and began discussing some of the issues in my life that were bothering me. I did not tell the therapist that I was thinking about suicide, I just talked about some minor things. But I felt better just talking with someone.
My wife later suggested that we get into marital counseling.
So we did and I was thus seeing two therapists.
And after a few months I realized it was time to say goodbye to law enforcement. It was a difficult decision, but I needed to move on.
It was a hard transition, but it was worth it. I started my own business and felt alive again for the first time in a long time. I did not miss being a cop at all.
I now have a thriving business; my marriage is strong; and I spend a lot of time with my children.
The depression that I was feeling was essentially a signal for me to leave law enforcement. But I would not listen to what my mind was telling me.
And I cannot believe I almost killed myself. I look back on those times and it is like I was another person. And, I was.
I made it through somehow.
And I am glad that I did.
If you or someone you know is suicidal, please go to the Home Page of this website for immediate help.
I love you.