Suicide Prevention: From Uniform to Desire to End It

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Prévention du suicide&nbsp ;: From the uniform to the desire to get it over with

The various police unions estimate that nearly thirty officers have committed suicide in Quebec since 2010.

Martine Laurier was a police officer for 29 years with the Montreal Police Department.

Martine Laurier, a former SPVM police officer who almost ended her life, could not find a better title for the book From uniform to desire to end, which she wrote for those who still wear the uniform.

Launched last fall, the book is a story that dwells on its own experience to explain how to see the warning signs in co-workers, but, above all, how to quickly move towards the good resources.

In 29 years of service at the SPVM, Martine Laurier says she has experienced two suicidal crises that led to two hospitalizations.

Martine Laurier almost took her own life in 1999. Now retired, the former SPVM police officer has made suicide a cause for her colleagues still in service.

Grateful to still be alive, she never forgot that it was colleagues who saved her from ending her life.

Today, when I do my rounds in the police department, I am able to connect with those who are in the tunnel of darkness, says the retiree, who has become an author and a specialist in mental health and suicide prevention.

“When you have a suicidal crisis, it's never because of a situation. I explain in conference that it is like a cart that we fill with time. Suddenly, there is a wheel that lands, a second, a third, and nothing goes. »

— Martine Laurier, retired SPVM police officer and suicide prevention specialist

In 1999, she was in the process of divorce because she was living with domestic violence. The tiles in his private life keep falling on his head.

Then comes a disciplinary meeting for a racist comment in front of co-workers following a protest that escalates in downtown Montreal where a police officer loses an eye. A colleague reports his remarks.

I did not have a balanced life. I only had problems. The only thing that gave me pride was my job. And there, I had just lost the confidence of my bosses, she remembers.

Throughout the night, I skid. I'm in an anxiety attack. My heart struggles. I'm cold, I'm hot. I am carried away by a tornado of emotions. The next morning, I call the office to say that I will not be coming into work, adds the former police officer.

Martine Laurier will be lucky enough that a police colleague, who has known about her state of mind for months, suspects that something is wrong.

She immediately told the sergeant on duty that he had to come to my house urgently. I had just gone to drive my children back to school and my curtains were closed when they knocked on my door, she still recounts with emotion.

She was immediately taken back to psychiatry at the Cité de la santé in Laval, where she remained long enough to regain her mental balance.

“In Quebec, we have several resources to help suicidal people. What we don't have is the framework to lead people in psychological distress to resources. There is a big void in how to provide follow-up to the most vulnerable. »

— Martine Laurier, retired police officer and suicide prevention specialist

Since retiring from the SPVM in 2017, she has made suicide prevention the cause of her life . For the past five years, she has given many conferences in several police forces in Quebec.

Although the figures are not officially compiled publicly by the police services, the various police unions estimate at nearly thirty the number of officers who have committed suicide in Quebec since 2010.

In 2020, Martine Laurier received the Meritorious Service Medal of Canada for her awareness work on suicide prevention and mental health among SPVM police officers.

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As she overcame this suicidal crisis, she reflected on what set her apart from colleagues who had taken action.< /p>

I wondered why I was still alive when others were gone. I was no smarter than them. Above all, I realized that I had been lucky enough to have an entourage sensitive to the warning signs, explains Martine Laurier.

At the At the time, the SPVM was designing a program to help officers intervene with people in psychological distress.

I said to myself, before using the police to help people in distress, can we help them themselves? she says.

“When you join the police, you are told, as soon as you put on the uniform, to let go of your emotions to protect you from the difficult events that you have to manage. On the other hand, we develop a lack of compassion and we end up forgetting our own emotions. We forget that before joining the police we were human beings like everyone else. When you have too much, you hit the wall. »

— Martine Laurier, retired police officer and suicide prevention specialist

SPVM director Fady Dagher helped Martine Laurier to developing suicide prevention programs within the SPVM when he had an inspector's rank.

Martine Laurier is delighted with the appointment of Fady Dagher as director of the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal.

With the approval of her commanding officer, she delivers a first lecture to senior management and police officers on suicide prevention.

Inspector at the time, Fady Dagher is present in the room and participates in the ovation of the troops at the very end. It was then that she embarked on a tour of the neighborhood stations.

Fady ended up meeting me. He officially asked me to write a project to help police officers in distress in the ranks of the SPVM. I told him no because I saw it as too demanding for the little impact it would have. I already had 25 years of service and thought it would fall between two chairs. He insisted that I trust him, shares the policewoman.

Thing promised, thing due, the project written by Martine Laurier took off instead of dying on the soap opera.< /p>

“Fady supported my project. He even traced it back to Marc Parent, who was the director at the time. I was thus able to hold nearly 300 prevention workshops in all the Montreal police teams. I could talk about my experience with a specialist in mental health. »

— Martine Laurier, retired SPVM police officer and suicide prevention specialist

Sharing my experience resonated in the hearts of several colleagues. What was said and shared in private still touches me today, she says at the end of the interview.

Finally, she recommends especially to aspiring police officers to be sensitive to their well-being and that of their colleagues. Suicide prevention, argues Martine Laurier, is everyone's cause.

To reach Suicide Action Montreal

Telephone: 1 866 CALL (1 866 277-3553)

Website: suicideactionmontreal.org

To contact Tel-jeunes

Telephone: 1 800 263-2266

By text message: 514 600-1002

Chat: teljeunes.com

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