Former Miami-Dade Police director Alfredo “Freddy” Ramirez was outspoken about the need for police to have mental health support, joining a movement that has taken hold in just the last decade.
“Our officers face the worst of humanity on a daily basis, and when they return home, it can be hard for them to leave their experience in the car,” he wrote in an April MDPD newsletter, encouraging people to take advantage of the department’s counseling services.
Then, on a Sunday night in July, Ramirez shot himself in the head on the side of the highway and survived after two surgeries.
Ramirez is the only one who knows what was going through his head when he pulled the trigger, and mental health experts warn against seeking the answers as to why someone would try to take their own life.
But the incident brings up the stickiness of the mental health stigma within law enforcement. Job problems, marital strife and access to a firearm are all risk factors that were present on the evening of Ramirez’s attempt. But the suicide intervention programs that could have helped him in a vulnerable time were dependent on his willingness to admit he was in a crisis. According to experts, that is something officers still struggle to do.
Full story: The struggle behind the badge: Miami top cop’s suicide attempt and the mental health stigma in policing