Known NSW POLICE SUICIDE ATTEMPTS
Suicidal officer with a gun, but this time tragedy averted
Les Kennedy and Ben Cubby
May 1, 2007
THE desperate officer arrived at Earlwood police station yesterday afternoon via a rear courtyard, got his service pistol, returned to his car and put the gun in his mouth.
But a crucial phone call saved him. Minutes earlier, the officer, a 39-year-old senior constable with the highway patrol, had phoned a fellow officer in despair.
This call, about 2.15pm, generated immediate confusion, as police prepared for a siege. Soon the area around Earlwood’s highway patrol headquarters was cordoned off and swarming with about 50 police, including members of the State Protection Group and an armoured van.
Negotiators were brought in, as hundreds of onlookers crowded the Earlwood shopping strip.
After a “delicate and sensitive” stand-off lasting nearly three hours, the negotiators persuaded the officer to surrender at 5.05pm.
“The fact that there was some contact with another officer – perhaps it was a cry for help by the officer that has prevented this from ending tragically,” a police official told the Herald last night.
The acting Assistant Commissioner, Frank Mennilli, confirmed the phone call had probably saved the situation, but could shed no light on why the officer, a married man who had been in the force for 20 years, might want to take his life.
At least seven NSW police officers have committed suicide since 2001, five of them in a police station. More police have died from suicide while on duty than any other cause.
Last month the Police Commissioner, Ken Moroney, expressed his concern at the rate of suicides and the need for commanders to recognise symptoms and intervene. He said senior officers would be trained to recognise psychological distress. “It may be that by taking an early intervention role we can lead people into the right programs,” he said.
Mr Moroney added that many police had been reluctant to seek help about personal problems while coping with the pressures of their job.
Officers at Sutherland and Menai are still struggling to explain why a new recruit, Constable Greg Norman Lundberg, 29, fatally shot himself while working alone in the station at Menai in January. He left no note and did not appear depressed to his colleagues.
At Chatswood police station in November 2005, Detective Senior Constable Patrick Cleary shot himself dead before colleagues arrived for work.
And in August 2004, Detective Sergeant Steve Leach killed himself with his pistol at police headquarters at Parramatta.
Following yesterday’s stand-off, Mr Mennilli said outside Earlwood police station: “There was a telephone call made
to another officer and the police responded to that telephone call.”
The officer was taken into custody and his health and welfare needs will be assessed.
NSW Police officer in suspected suicide
From Berrick Boland – Saturday 11 June 2016 – 8.21pm
Hi Member and Guests,
Have just got off the phone with 2 ex police and friends of our member, M………..I………… of P……………, she has been admitted by Ambulance to ……………… hospital last night after calling Lifeline and then the Ambulance.
She has apparently stated to her friends at the hospital today, she took 2’300 mgs of the pain killer Lyrica prescribed for her back injury received while on duty with the NSW Police force, she has been using a walking cradle for the last 2 years.
She further stated to her friends, she had researched the effects of overdosing on Lyrica on the internet and ascertained a certain dose would leave her in a vegetative state and she didn’t want that, it was death or nothing, when she had reached swallowing at least 8 from her memory, she stated to have a floating sensation and her family and niece’s started to flash in her mind and she started to get scared, she called Lifeline and told them, she states they told her to get off the phone and call an ambulance, which she did, the ambulance arrived and conveyed her to ………………. hospital, where she remains in a stable condition.
Apparently her blood pressure was extremely high and they needed to stabalise that last night fearing a stroke and she has agreed at this stage to remain in hospital until further specialists can see her after the long weekend on Tuesday.
The main reason given to her friends, EML Insurance were pushing her to visit another IME which she says was unnecessary and she only receives $440,00 pw, and couldn’t afford the $100.00 taxi fare,EML insistedshe pay up front and they would reimburse her later?.
Struggling ex-cops given a lifeline in NSW
Detective Senior Constable Allan Sparkes was a celebrated rescue hero and recipient of the highest honour for civilian bravery when he decided to end his life.
“It was October 4, 1998. I kissed my wife and goodbye and went to work with my revolver. I pulled one of the bullets out and had a look at it for a few seconds, before putting it back in,” he told a roomful of the state’s top brass at the launch of a support program on Wednesday.
“Then I walked off to the bathroom to shoot myself.”
A colleague walked in just in time, taking the gun out of his hands and helping him home.
Only a few months earlier, Mr Sparkes became one of only six Australians to win the Cross of Valour after risking his life to rescue an 11-year-old boy washed down a drainpipe during flash flooding.
He almost drowned in that rescue, and the trauma from that added to a lifetime of exposure to brutal crimes and accident scenes, pushing the “strong, tough” policeman to the brink.
However, the moment that hit him the hardest was when he was discharged from the police force against his own will.
“To receive a phone call saying you’re out, that was probably one of the most damaging experiences I’ve ever endured,” he said.
“I had to find my worth again, to prove to myself that I was still a man, a husband, a father capable of protecting and looking after my loved ones.”
Now a motivational speaker and Black Dog ambassador, Mr Sparkes says a program such as Backup for Life, launched by the NSW Police Force on Wednesday, would have helped struggling policemen like him recover from trauma suffered in the line of duty.
The program aims to support retired cops who struggle with isolation and a lack of purpose, as well as their psychological and physical scars.
The launch comes days after revelations that a culture of shame and silence towards mental health and PTSD issues still abounds in the NSW Police.
Police Minister Troy Grant acknowledged the cultural issues but said the force was still evolving in its processes for dealing with trauma.
He drew upon his own experiences “dancing with shadows” during his 22-year policing, saying if he hadn’t received professional help he wouldn’t have made it through.
The NSW government has contributed $2 million to the program.
* Former NSW police officers seeking support can contact 1800 4 BACKUP
* Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.
© AAP 2016