The toll of depression and PTSD among police and their families | ABC News In-depth



Michelle Schlitter holds the memory of her husband dear. A year ago, Bruce Cooper took his own life. Mr Cooper was a police officer for 20 years, first in NSW and then Queensland. He loved the job but also witnessed terrible things that haunted him — car accidents, suicides and murders. He was medically retired in 2008, diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression.

The struggle with PTSD is all too common.

A nationwide survey by Beyond Blue found 11 per cent of police had probable PTSD, compared with 4 per cent of the general population.

After retiring from the police force, Mr Cooper got in contact with Blue Hope, an organisation independent of the police service, which supports current and former officers.

Blue Hope director Mark Kelly, who is a former federal agent with the Australian Federal Police, remembers Mr Cooper well.

“He had seen a lot of trauma in his life, within the police and external to the police, and had never been able to resolve it.”

Ms Schlitter vows to fight on for her husband and is preparing for a trip to Africa later this year to trek Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money for Blue Hope.

IF YOU OR ANYONE YOU KNOW NEEDS HELP:
• Lifeline on 13 11 14
• Blue Hope on 1300 002583
• Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800
• MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978
• Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467
• Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36
• Headspace on 1800 650 890
• QLife on 1800 184 527

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