Suicide among members of law enforcement is not an easy topic to discuss. It is sad and painful on many levels. But it is important that we talk about the problem, try to understand it more fully, and find new ways for preventing suicide among our officers. Officer suicide is a national crisis and it is well known that nearly more officers die by suicide each year than are killed in the line of duty. I sat down with Officer Adam Davis to discuss the topic of suicide and the many struggles he had to face due to trauma. What Adam had to say was very personal to him because he was an officer who sadly considered suicide as a way out of his pain.
Adam grew up in a religious home in the bible belt of southern Alabama. His mother remarried a man who was a preacher which meant as a family they spent a lot of time in church. He felt privileged growing up in a religious environment and he didn’t consider himself lucky but that God placed him there for a purpose. He realized growing up in that kind of environment made him become rather religious but what it didn’t do was teach him how to have a personal relationship with God. All-in-all he said it was a wonderful blessing to be raised in a religious environment. But, in his mind, sadly, he thought God was still a harsh God who was holding a big hammer with a red button waiting for him to mess up. You see, Adam had a secret that he didn’t share with anyone. Sadly, he experienced childhood sexual abuse that left him traumatized most of his life. Before his mother remarried Adam’s childhood was not easy, in fact it was very hard. It wasn’t until he was in his early twenties he was able to talk about the abuse out of pure shame, but the wounds were still not healed. He learned at an early age to hide his feelings. Only two people knew he was hurting — him and God. Holding it in seemed like the right thing to do at the time, but soon he realized that God wanted Adam to trust Him which in time was something that he turned to during his darkest hours.
Because of Adams devastating childhood experience, he lost hope in his ability to change his life or change his painful situation which led to feelings of hopelessness. He finally felt he found hope in some of his step father's friends who were police officers. He referred to them as good men. He admired their work so much that he deliberately started plotting his life course to become just like them. He knew early on he wanted to be in that role. Finally in 2009 Adam became a Alabama police officer and for 6 years served his community. He loved his work but quickly learned that officer’s are so ingrained with a “tough guy” mindset that it gave him more reasons to bury his childhood struggles as far under the surface as possible. He downplayed his failures, rationalized, hid his fears and projected a message telling everyone around him that he was ok. But, in reality he wasn’t ok. He believed that bringing his story to the surface would not help him or anyone else. He thought he was hiding it well by keeping his emotions hidden, which only led him down an even darker path of self destruction.
Sadly, Adam began abusing alcohol. The alcohol abuse was destroying his sense of self-confidence and was eroding his self-esteem leaving deep emotional scars that were only complicating his emotional fragility and instability. This was causing him to not trust anyone and to have unhealthy relationships. His marriage was being threatened by his addiction making it difficult for his wife to stay with their children. The devastating split caused him even more emotional trauma, that left him feeling paralized. All of this led Adam to consider suicide as an unfortunate option. Early one Sunday morning around 2 AM he parked his police car in a dark wooded area where no one could see him end his life. He was tired of struggling and to him suicide seemed like the right thing to do. Feeling alone and empty he cried out to God begging him for answers. He said he remembers having a moment of clarity knowing that God was at work in his life even when it didn’t look that way he knew it to be true. While sitting in his car he began to realize that his life had purpose and that he had so much to live for. As he began to heal he understood that his story could bring so much value to others who were suffering just like he suffered. Making it okay to share his story taught him a valuable lesson. That a healthy relationship with God has never been a straight line, but rather a squiggly, sometimes uncertain journey, and that he could bring tremendous value to the world by opening up. Every aspect of Adams' life changed because he made that decision to go on living. Today Adam is an author of several inspirational books like Behind the Badge: 365 Daily Devotions for Law Enforcement, Bulletproof Marriage: a 90-Day Devotional (with Lt. Col. Dave Grossman) and On Spiritual Combat: 30 Missions for Victorious Warfare (with Lt. Col. Dave Grossman.). He is a motivational speaker and has delivered his message at many events around the country. He focuses on helping law enforcement officers at all levels, loved ones, as well as those who support law enforcement, to understand how to get through the tough challenges of life. HIs message delivers faith, hope, and love to those who serve. He is also the spokesperson for REBOOT Recovery First Responders, a non-profit organization which focuses on providing faith-based trauma healing for first responders and service members. He is supported by his wife, Amber, of 20 years, and three children.
Pictured: Officer Davis being Sworn in as Officer
We want to thank our police officers and want them to know we appreciate all they do and stand behind them. Where would we be without our police officers and first responders? We’d be in a world of hurt.
*To learn more about Adam Davis and his work follow this link to his website.
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