“Unfortunately, to commit suicide, we carry the solution on our belts,” one officer remarked cynically, pointing to his service weapon.
All police unions called for rallies on Friday after the suicide of two of their colleagues on Thursday.
“The dramatic days are linked to an unsustainable pace and the unknown,” the organisers say. “We are demanding a real family life. We do not have any social life,” lamented a policewoman in front of the police station of the 13th arrondissement in Paris.
“We have no respite, we are practically in non-stop activity with a lot of pressure”, adds the one who with a colleague tries to remember the last “real weekend” she had. “Before November 2018,” she says, surrounded by many other police officers. And for good reason.
All police unions joined in the rallies “in front of their respective departments”. They demanded to be received “urgently” by Christophe Castaner, after the two latest police suicides
“The dire situation came with the Yellow Vests . We work more, but we are not paid more and it is starting to accumulate. Furthermore, we will still have many days of events to cover, especially on May 1,” said a police officer before adding: “It will not take too much to just do it.”
Another explains: “Fortunately, there is solidarity and cohesion between us but it only takes one day more complicated than the previous… and unfortunately, to commit suicide, we carry the solution on our belts,” the police officer interviewed by French media noted.
“The plan to fight against suicides in the police must become a national cause and be decreed as a ministerial priority,” said the inter-union police in a statement. “The dramatic days are linked to an unsustainable pace and the unknown,” says the Inter Union.
According to police and union sources, a police captain of the departmental security of Herault committed suicide on Thursday morning in his office in Montpellier with his service weapon.
Another policeman was found on Thursday, in the early afternoon at his home in Villejuif (Val-de-Marne), sources from the police and union revealed.
An officer of the Public Order and Traffic Department of the Paris Police Prefecture, the 25-year-old committed suicide by firearm . He belonged to the regional division of road safety and was involved in schools. “Strong and immediate measures must be taken without delay,” says the Inter union. The untenable situation has been going for too long, according to many.
“Suicides in the police have long been hidden, it has been a taboo,” said Michel, a retired policeman who came to support the police officers. “But today the working conditions seem to be deteriorating further, many jobs have been cut, there is also less and less recognition and a scramble for numbers. The pressure is very high especially on the young people who arrive. They dare not say no anymore. In addition, they are underpaid and must ensure a life in Ile-de-France,” he explained.
Last Friday, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner, visiting the Paris Peacekeeper’s Hospital, promised an acceleration in the implementation of the anti-suicide plan launched in 2018 by his predecessor, Gerard Collomb.
He also announced the creation of a “suicide prevention alert cell” for the national police, ensuring that suicide was not a “fatality”. A dedicated telephone number, available 24 hours a day, will also make it possible to report risks and put people in pain in contact with psychologists.