Police Alcoholism & Depression: Richard Walker Case
Potential Psychological Intervention Points for Richard Walker
Police suicide is often linked to stress of the job, Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and alcohol use. In Officer Walker’s case alcohol consumption may have played a large part, but the stress of the job seemed to motivate him to be better. His temper, on the other hand, appears to be the leading cause in all of Walkers demotions and negative events in his life. Early intervention for Officer Walker is imperative because in times of stress he is likely to resort to his aggressive ways. However if Walker had been taught how to curb his aggression he may have had more successful career and marriage. At age 18 to 19 would have been the best time in his life to address vulnerabilities to psychological risk. Ainsworth (2002) discusses how those with innate aggression should have something to focus that aggression on, such as physically intense sports. Walker had an outlet, but still let his temper get the best of him. This ultimately was the beginning of the end for Walker. Addressing and harnessing his aggression could potentially be key in preventing his suicide later in life. A study done by Zarling, Lawrence and Marchman (2015) showed that Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is effective in reducing both physical and psychological aggression. While this is a couple’s exercise, there is potential to pull useful techniques from ACT in order to address aggression and the temper of Walker. There is especially potential for this method to be used later on in Walker’s life when him and his wife begin to have trouble. Needless to say, appropriate coping strategies are key in order for police officer to maintain their mental health (Cross & Ashley, 2004).
The next important time when Richard Walker’s vulnerability to psychological risk should have been addressed was when he was 24 years old and drinking away the last of his pay. Using alcohol as a coping mechanism rarely has a positive effect. If this is how Walker is managing depressing situations, then there is need for intervention here.
Violanti (2004) points out that alcohol use is highly correlated to suicidal ideation. While there is no serious trauma mentioned in Richard’s life, the constant let down of positions he may have been qualified for may be enough. Additionally, as a veteran there is always the potential that he has been through something traumatic. Coupling his life let downs with alcohol would eventually be the death of him. It is important for police officers and departments to be able to identify and give help to those who are abusing alcohol as a means of coping (Cross & Ashley, 2004). Rather than just offering Richard a job, he should have been given conditions to acquiring the position. For instance, it would have benefited Walker if in joining the police force he had to seek chemical dependency treatment. As Cross and Ashley (2004) point out, it is important to police officers to receive treatment and learn about substance abuse before recruitment. (thoughts)
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