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Pascack Valley Daily Voice serves Emerson, Hillsdale, Montvale, Park Ridge, River Vale, Washington Township, Westwood & Woodcliff Lake

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DV Pilot police & fire

Dilemma: If cop’s suicide is nobody’s business, how do we prevent others?

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

EDITORIAL : A North Jersey newspaper made clear this weekend what others had suspected — that a local cop deliberately shot himself dead in his home. It was a private act, and it didn’t follow any kind of wrongdoing, his chief told CLIFFVIEW PILOT . “No need to go any further,” he said. And he was right. So why was it reported?

I worked in newspapers a long time, and several bosses cited sensitivity to the survivors as reason not to report private suicides. Yet that seemed to get tossed when it involved a cop.

Never mind that this officer of the law has a family who’ll have to deal with the media reports, who can count on throngs of camera holders trampling their way toward them, as they struggle with their grief.

It’s a shame. As a good friend told me on Sunday, it’s sadly ironic that a man brave enough to don a uniform, shield and gun to protect us from harm couldn’t beat his personal demons — on the same weekend that the remains of an equally brave young solider from Westwood were returned for burial.

Now they’ll both be waked around the same time, in towns that are relatively close.

Sgt. Christopher Hrbek put himself in harm’s way every day to protect us. You could tell he fed off of it — he took the responsibility very seriously. And he not only did his best to keep us safe; he looked out for his buddies.

In fact, Hrbek was to receive a Bronze Star for rescuing his commanding officer, who’d had his legs blow off by a hidden explosive device — the same type that killed Hrbek as he fought with those flesh-and-blood demons who oppose American presence.

The cop whose name I won’t disclose out of respect for his family wrestled with different demons. And they got the better of him — if for no other reason than he didn’t have the courage to ask for help.

Jerry DeMarco Publisher/Editor CLIFFVIEWPILOT.COM

Society should pay way more attention to these suicides. They are happening often, in all corners of the country. Figures show that 2 1/2 more cops die by their own hand than in the line of duty. The numbers each year are in the hundreds.

Gives a sad meaning to “death by cop.”

North Jersey is fortunate; The “Cop2Cop” program, the first of its kind in the US, focuses on suicide prevention and mental health support for law enforcement officers who need a secure place where they can discuss their troubles with peers who won’t judge them.

Authorities say “Cop2Cop” has prevented more than 150 police suicides over eight years.

New Jersey also has a statewide “law enforcement officer crisis intervention services” hotline. Phones are answered by retired police volunteers, police clinicians and others trained in how to handle such crises before they become tragedies.

The dead officer could have quietly called and kept his name out of it — same as the insensitive local newspaper should have done. Just maybe he might have gotten the help he needed.

Listen, if you’re a cop and you’re feeling stressed or anxious or just need someone to talk to, please be sure to call: 1-866-Cop-2-Cop.

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