Monday, May 16

Police. Already nine police suicides in 2022: “We pay a heavy price and nothing is done”

On the night of Sunday to last Monday, a 22-year-old policeman committed suicide in Marseille with his service weapon. The young man who graduated top of his school promotion last year is the 9th police officer to end his life since the beginning of January. A sad record that once again testifies to a growing malaise within this profession.

On average, there are between 30 and 40 suicides per year. The year 2019 had marked a record with 50 suicides in the police.

The first figures for this month of January obviously affect the profession and the police unions, who believe that little is in place to deal with this wave of suicides. “This is a phenomenon that particularly affects our profession. We pay a heavy price and nothing is done, ”says Didier Crassous, Mediterranean zonal secretary of the Alternative Police – CFDT union.

“We are under a lot of pressure, we are forced to thank you”

On Wednesday, during questions to the government in the Senate, the Minister of the Interior Gérald Darmanin noted that “most suicides” had “a direct link with the personal and not professional life of these people”. While emphasizing that this clarification was not intended to “minimize them”.

A position that contradicts the police unions. “The administration always clears itself by alleging family problems. But when you scratch you realize that it’s not just that, ”says Didier Crassous. Admittedly, “the working hours and conditions send you to couple problems and social life is very complicated”, concedes another union delegate, who wishes to remain anonymous.

According to them, police officers mainly face problems directly related to the exercise of their profession, starting with a hierarchy that is not sufficiently attentive, coupled with a spirit of competition. Worries that can contribute to suicidal gestures, believe the unions.

“There is a bad atmosphere in relation to the merit bonus, transfers”, denounces the anonymous union representative, who deplores that “hierarchical relations have become very complicated” in the police, in particular because of superiors “still in the numbers policy. “This bad atmosphere can be the trigger for the fatal gesture,” he believes.

Didier Crassous also evokes this “strong pressure” that police officers are under on a daily basis today.

The schedules, the insults, the way of working… We can be forced to thank you. All of this means that we are under permanent pressure likely to trigger psychosocial risks (PSR). We have a hierarchy that squeezes our colleagues like lemons. There is no longer a haven of peace within your work. After all that, if you have extra-professional difficulties, it can be fatal.

Didier Crassous, Alernative Police – CFDT

Hours, wages… Problems that add up

Extended hours, lack of equipment, dilapidated premises, wages that do not follow… The unions denounce a pile of constraints and problems in the face of which the police feel powerless.

“The schedules are getting very complicated,” confirms a trade unionist from the PACA region, where the young Marseille policeman recently killed himself. “We have the same problem as in the hospital environment, with 12-hour days. It makes no sense ! he says, adding that the accumulated fatigue can then cause problems “that we can’t anticipate”. “Then comes the financial aspect, because we are underpaid, like in the army or in the hospital. The peacekeepers who arrive are paid minimum wage, ”he argues.

According to Gérald Darmanin, “the fact that these police officers and gendarmes have a service weapon unfortunately contributes to the passage to the act more than in other administrations”. ” It makes no sense ! “, replies Didier Crassous. “The problem of suicide is not linked to the fact that a colleague is armed. The handgun is the finality. Just because you have a gun doesn’t mean you’re going to kill yourself. There are also many colleagues who hang themselves, ”underlines the trade unionist.

The proposed measures, “bandages on a wooden leg”?

In 2019, a year which recorded a record number of suicides among the police, the then Minister of the Interior Christophe Castaner had put in place various measures. Among them, a single call number allowing civil servants to have anonymous, confidential and free access to psychologists.

On Wednesday, during questions to the government in the Senate, Gérald Darmanin announced that he had decided to have these devices evaluated by “an external consulting firm”. The Minister of the Interior has also announced the recruitment of “about twenty psychologists in the most difficult places of the national police” to prevent suicides among the police.

“It’s not with twenty shrinks that we’re going to solve the problem! “, deplores the trade unionist preferring to remain anonymous. These psychologists “do not stay long in the police force because they have too much work, there are not enough staff to manage all the police officers, and their salary does not follow. »

Indeed, according to figures presented at an extraordinary meeting of the health, safety and working conditions committee (CHSCT) of the police devoted to suicides last Thursday, January 20, the preventive medicine network only has 70 full-time doctor positions, 24 nurses and 12 administrative staff. Obviously too little to help the 155,000 police officers in France.

Didier Crassous denounces the “measurements” taken by the government, which according to him are “bandages on a wooden leg”. The trade unionist from Alternative believes that “it would take a total revaluation of all the means that are made available to us because today, we carry out our missions with rudimentary means”.

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