Now that you have read my story I would like to address what I call the road to recovery. I will start by saying that this was not the one and only event that lead to my near suicide attempt. This was however, the triggering event that made my glass that had been filling up for so long run over. Just like anything else in life, your emotions have a breaking point. Training and education in how to reduce the emotional affects are important.
So you might ask, if you ever get over it? Does it ever get any easier? Or does the pain every stop? Neither of these questions can I answer for you personally, but I can tell you about me. I can say that it is all up to you and your willingness and desire to make life better. Overall, I have had a great life with a wonderful family, and some best friends a person could ask for. All of which I value and are very important part of my life. I have also had the honor of meeting a lot of great people along the way that is a pleasure to know and was great to work with. It is these people that will help you through, and it is so important that you keep them as a part of your life. It is especially important to keep the ones you knew before you became a COP and the ones you meet along the way that are not COPS. It is also very important that you find at least that one person in you life that you can truly confide in, whether it is a family member or a friend. I realized after the fact, how important it is to vent all these things that haunt you and sometimes cause you to cry at night when the lights go out. I have cried myself to sleep many times in the darkness of my room and to be honest, I have also cried on the back roads in the front seat of my patrol unit after so of those calls that just got the best of me.
It is crucial that you realize that life does go on, and that SUICIDE is an unnecessary permanent fix that there is no coming back from to a temporary situation. I did not truly realize how selfish of an act suicide is, until December 2000, when a close friend of mine killed himself. To this very day, I don’t know if I were more hurt from the loss of a great friend, or more angered at him for committing suicide and depriving me of a friend. As I look back on things, I realize that there were signs, but like many others I chose NOT TO SAY ANYTHING, and I contributed his behavior to the situation at hand, and just didn’t know what to say. I was also not educated on Suicide Awareness at that time. My advice is to just be a friend and don’t be afraid to ask questions. In bad times just asking if they are ok, a friendly pat on the shoulder and letting them know you are there for them, is of great support. If necessary, ask the big question.
Are you considering suicide? How would you do it? Have you considered when?
Just like the investigative things we are taught, look for means opportunity and intent. If they are available, see if you can lessen the chances by removing them.
Prior to the accident in which Brady was killed, I had several events that stand out, which contributed to the filling of my glass.
1990 Operation Desert Storm
1991 Unexpected death (drowning) of my older brother, Patrick Peoples
1991 Luby’s Cafeteria Massacre (Killeen, TX)
1992 Death of friend and Police Officer Randy Zimmerman (Jacksonville, PD)
1996 Death of Grandmother (Mother Artie)
1997 Struck by a car on duty
The working of numerous fatality accidents and deaths while working as both a City Police Officer and State Trooper.
I look back now and realize that with each of these events, a part of me went with it, and with each of these events, my life changed in some way. These among many other things I never talked about and that glass of mine continued to fill until one day it ran over. In short, finding that one person you can talk too is very crucial. If anyone considers or perceives you as weak or not being able to cope, just know that you are human and have feelings just like the rest of society. That badge and uniform does not make you superman, there are no special powers and very little to no training on the emotional impacts the police career can have on you. Being the garbage man or woman for society, can and will take a toll on your life if you don’t take care of yourself and learn how to cope.
During all of these incidents, like I stated earlier I felt I had no one to talk to and no one that would understand. The honest truth is that I never gave my family or friends that chance to listen and understand. I instead chose to push them further and further away and to go into my own little world. Don’t turn you back on them, and most of all don’t turn your back on your religious beliefs, God and his son Jesus Christ. Instead turn to them for strength in you time of weakness. God gave us the blessing of free will and I believe it is that very gift that causes evil and I now feel that that is why bad thing happen to both good and bad people.
For me, my life is much better. I still have my frequent bad days, but that is to be expected and I enjoy the good ones even more. I love myself and am not afraid to love others, to tell them I love them, and let them love me in return. Some of the most difficult times for me have been, the dates of deaths, holidays, anniversaries and birthdays. I have found that by doing positive things on these days and not dwelling on the bad, I do much better and live a much happier life. I also realize that during the times of pain, my worst enemy was the man in the mirror, and I didn’t care much for who he had become. If I did not love myself, I damn sure didn’t expect anyone else to.
With the sense of responsibility I felt for the death of Brady, I now realize that I was doing my job and the cause of his death was due to the choice of another. There is nothing I can do about the outcome of the events of February 7th, 1998 or any of the other bad days in my life. I can however, do thing to influence or maybe change the events of today and the future in a positive way. By making this website and providing training in Police Suicide and Stress related issues in Law Enforcement I am using those incidents in a positive way.
Even though therapy can be quite helpful in your recovery, know that hundreds of therapy session will not make you better if you do not want to get better and you are not honest about your feelings. I wake up each day and tell myself that it is going to be a good day and take each day in a positive manner. Not until that day, when you wake up and say that today is the first day of the rest of my life and it’s going to be good, will you start that road to recovery. Renewal of faith in God and self forgiveness were the two major keys for my recovery.
I am thankful that I found that friend in my life that I can talk to about anything and know that it goes nowhere and they don’t think less of me for sharing my feelings. I am thankful that I have also found purpose in my life, which gives me the strength and courage each day to pursue my dreams. I am blessed to have finally realized that God does not make bad things happen and during those tests of faith, you just have to hold on. And as Mother Artie (grandma) use to say, “That, which does not kill you only make you stronger.” So I say to you, “That, which does not kill you, only makes you stronger”. If you have the will to survive there is a way, and every day does not have to be cloudy. Control your mind and don’t let it control you.
REMEMBER THAT LIFE DOES GO ON, AND TOMORROW IS A NEW DAY.