If you were in trouble or needed something, who would you call?
If you were struggling with one of life’s many obstacles or had exciting news to share, who would be the first person you would reach out to?
I hope everyone has at least one name that would come to mind immediately. If a name didn’t instantly come to mind then keep thinking, it’s there.
Whether you know it or not, someone would be on the other end of the phone or next to you when you most needed them.
All too often in life we experience the hardships that come with being ‘us.’
To be clear, ‘us’ isn’t a particular race, gender or religion. It isn’t a specific profession, political party or social group. It’s being human. That’s ‘us.’
All of our experiences are similar in many ways but, they are also different. They are different because we all process them in our own way. It matters not whether it’s the loss of a loved one, a divorce or maybe financial setbacks.
Sometimes these hardships can roll right off our backs and other times, not so much. Tragically, some of us cannot bear that weight and ultimately, we give into the demons that haunt us.
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We have all been somewhere we didn’t want to be in life. A setback had us questioning ourselves and the choices we made.
I have, as most others have, suffered the loss of a loved one. Unfortunately, death is inevitable. It comes to everyone.
I had a hard time when my older brother died last year.
I didn’t open up to very many people about my loss. I didn’t talk about his death or talk about him very much to others, at all.
At the time, I had family around and we were there for each other. Generally, I grieved in silence. I knew I would be alright in time, but I had to handle it in my own way.
Then, I got a call out of nowhere from a friend in New York. The call was from an NYPD detective, no less. He called and just wanted to let me know that if I needed anything, I should simply call him. He assured me that if I did call, whatever I needed, he would make happen.
I will never forget that phone call and reassuring voice.
I believe I am a lucky guy. I have a father, two sisters and a brother who will answer the phone whenever I call.
I have friends who will do the same thing if I need them.
The fact is that I have needed all of them at some point, in the past. They have been there for me as I have been there for them in their times of need.
To quote Charles Dickens from, A Tale of Two Cities, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
When I face difficult times, I need to recognize that I may need help. My friends will be there – but only if I pick up the phone and ask.
It is up to me to pick up the phone and call them.
I must set aside my pride and stubbornness. I must make the damn call!
Remembering that my friends will help me when I am hurting is important. But, it is equally important that I tell them when I need a friend at my side.
All the comparisons in the Dickens quote above are so close to each other that they can turn around in a moment. The darkness can be light in the blink of an eye.
THE BIGGER PICTURE
We cannot accept our friends and brothers in blue taking their own lives any longer. I judge we are losing them because they cannot handle their own pain and they think they have nowhere to turn.
Starting now: We must become proactive. We must call our brothers frequently. We must muster the courage to ask,
“How are you doing?
Are you alright?
Can I help you with anything?”
It is our responsibility to let them know we are here 24/7 whether it’s just to listen, or take action if they need help. They must know that they will never be alone.
THE BADGE GETS HEAVIER OVER TIME
In our profession, there is a mental weight which builds up over the course of our careers. It is the weight of the badge. It is the horrible price we pay for the things we experience out on the street.
Some of us can carry that weight on our own. Others of us may need a little help from time-to-time.
The weight of the badge can cause physical, mental or emotional problems for the person carrying it. It can manifest itself into something horrible if left unchecked or unaddressed.
Some of our brothers get to a point where they believe a permanent solution (i.e. suicide) is the only viable option.
So far in 2019, there have been 78 Line of Duty Deaths. There have been 130 Suicides. How do we stop them? If I had the answer to that question, I would share it everywhere, with everyone.
We hope and pray that the number of these tragedies could become zero.
Even though we might never achieve zero, we cannot stop trying. Our police, fire, EMS, corrections, dispatchers and military service members deserve the same care we would offer anyone else.
So, when you ask, “Who do I call?” … CALL ME.
Call your partner, your Sergeant, call a friend, call a chaplain or a helpline, just please call someone.
At the bottom line, it all comes down to saving just ONE life.
Tim likes to hear from his readers. He can be reached here: EMAIL
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