A study by the mutual security forces recalls that 44 police officers commit suicide each year on average. While a new protocol is being put in place in Beauvau, RT France questioned PEPS, the association which met Marlène Schiappa.
A study produced by the Mutual Security Forces (MGP) and revealed by FranceInfo reiterated on June 7 the distress of the French workforce by delivering a ruthless statistic: 44 police officers kill themselves on average, each year.
“The average has been stable for at least 25 years, if one year there were 30 deaths, the year before there had been 60 and we are still falling around 45 police suicides. There have been 1,300 deaths over the past 25 years. We die more from suicide than from intervention, ”laments Christophe Girard, president of the PEPS association, which fights against the suicide of police officers in distress.
The study of Mutual MGP for its part puts forward the figure of 1,100 deaths for this period and specifies that it is 50% higher than the general population. The famous “shame counter”, often brandished by non-union police associations, has again resumed its inexorable pace, with already 16 police officers who have committed suicide since January 1, 2021.
Also according to the study carried out among 6,000 civil servants, 40% of police officers are in psychological distress and 24% of them have had suicidal thoughts or have witnessed words from colleagues going in this direction in just one year.
To get out of “psychological prison”: resignation or suicide
Among the conclusions of the investigation, we find various reasons for these suicides: the lack of time to accomplish their various tasks, which inevitably leads to a loss of meaning at work, but also a great difficulty for the police to reconcile life. professional with privacy. An anonymous policeman interviewed by RT France sums up the esprit de corps in the police services as follows: “You live in the police, you eat in the police, you do your police nights. These are the same mechanisms as the sect. You can get into it easily with biased speeches. Then, when you realize the situation, you can only get out of it by resignation, very complicated … or suicide. With other colleagues, we call it “the psychological prison”. “
This feeling of institutional confinement is often verbalized by small union families or angry police associations contacted by RT France, but leading union spokespersons rarely echo it.
However, it is precisely these bodies that are consulted in high places by the general direction of the national police and the Minister of the Interior himself to collect the complaints of the sector.
A notable exception took place on May 31, as revealed by RT France on May 26: Marlène Schiappa received associations at Beauvau de la Sécurité for an extraordinary round table on the subject of suicides in the national police. The subject was not planned in the program and it was chosen not to broadcast this round table live on social networks.
The Beauvau round tables: a tense communication exercise
A policeman interviewed by RT France who accompanied the prevention association PEPS-SOS Policiers in distress “to the ministry gate” was surprised to see Gérald Darmanin who was leaving Beauvau at the same time that this new table was about to start. round piloted by Marlène Schiappa.
Christophe Girard, vice-president of the PEPS association explains to us over the phone: “Marlène Schiappa assured us that it was she who wanted to be present on this specific subject of Beauvau de la sécurité after having met the families of police officers who ‘were committed suicide. “
According to a police source, the ministry also explained that the session could not be transmitted live on social networks because of the regional campaign in which Marlène Schiappa engaged in parallel with her activity at the Ministry of the Interior …
Another source also hypothesizes that this sequence of Beauvau having been “put together a little hard” may have required a different organization from the previous edition (dealing with the relationship between police and justice) in during which Gérald Darmanin, in a demining operation, had stressed several times to the audience: “We have all day to talk together.”
Some suicides are the direct production of difficulties with a few dangerous personalities that the administration protects instead of releasing them
A union source, for his part, stressed that the organizations in the sector had wisely read their statements in turn, in a slightly tense way, while the associations had dialogued in a very natural way and without reading their notes on this subject which they mastered. visibly by heart … A chafouin spirit of the assistance even going so far as to hypothesize that some union representatives had not worked in the police station for a long time and that they would therefore have been hard pressed to converse with a such ease on the subject of the daily ill-being of a police officer.
Christophe Girard, for his part, underlines that Frédéric Veaux, director general of the national police, was particularly attentive in private interview and that he had known the scourge of suicide as head of the police department.
Reducing suicides: a new working protocol gives rise to hope
Be that as it may, the PEPS associations are delighted to have snatched a working protocol from the administration, which finally listens to them. And for good reason: where the toll-free number set up by the administration to counter suicide treats about sixty cases per year, the association’s volunteers take care of around 500 police officers … and the civil servants hired within PEPS have been carrying out this activity in parallel with their work since 2019, with calls “in the morning, in the evening, at night, on weekends… When we can, in fact!” Explains Christophe Girard.
“We have 60 referents in all departments and 17 of us have taken specific training to help. Our referent colleagues make themselves known to the hierarchy and to colleagues, then they forward us the requests for colleagues in distress. For the police officers, this makes it possible above all not to go directly through the psy box and we take over, possibly to pass it on to one of the volunteer doctors who work with us. The principle is to provoke a start of dialogue between colleagues to free speech. ”
Make up for the shortcomings of an administration which ends up having to act on reality? This is the general meaning of the renewable work protocol signed between the association and Beauvau: “This model of referents has worked very well in Montreal where it has made it possible to reduce suicides by 70%, then in the United Kingdom which follows the same example since 2015. We want to adapt it to France. I told the ministry that I was available to work there the day after the round table. I have 26 years of public highways including 22 years of anti-crime squad, so the emergency, I’m used to. We will work directly with the DRCPN [les ressources humaines de la police] which has a suicide prevention alert cell currently composed of two people and a professor in psychiatry. ”
This time we will ask for results. We told Marlène Schiappa: we want action
Above all, Christophe Girard hopes that the working protocol will be followed over the long term: “What we have all seen is that at each peak in mortality, there is a response given, because it is necessary. .. then everyone moves on, including our leaders. But how, under these conditions, to know if the answers given are followed by effect? This gives the impression of an obligation of means, without an obligation of result. We told the Beauvau for security: we are committed to ensuring that the work protocol is fully implemented with a follow-up behind. ”
The association sees a good omen in this opening signal which is granted to it by the administration on the occasion of the Beauvau of security, but therefore remains on its guard: “This time we are going to ask for results. We told Marlène Schiappa, we want action … Everyone listened to us at Beauvau, we will know later if we were also heard. The mountain should not give birth to a mouse. ”
The other security professions forgotten?
“Yes, it’s very hard for the national police, but they are unfortunately not the only ones”, underlines Christelle Teixeira, president of Uniformes in danger and questioned by RT France when she had just received the distinction of the Star civic under the Arc de Triomphe for its associative commitment.
And to explain: “In all the uniforms, the phenomenon of suicide is amplifying and we talk about it less and less, but suicides exist in all the relief corporations. Just last week, a prison warden [dépendant donc du ministère de la Justice] committed suicide. It also affects the gendarmes, so it’s not just the police. We must not forget that all uniforms are victims of this scourge. ”
UPNI calls on trade unionists to take a radical leap
The spokesperson for the association of angry police officers UPNI, Jean-Pierre Colombiès, is for his part much more vindictive and calls on the trade unions to take a radical leap: “In Beauvau de la shame, the general secretaries of the trade unions should come and then leave the room immediately to mark the occasion! Otherwise they are manipulated. In any case, as long as human relations have not changed in depth in the police institution, nothing can really change. “
And to denounce without ambiguity: “I had the chance to meet very few really harmful department heads in my career, but it must be said: a lot of burnout and suicides are the direct production of difficulties with a few dangerous personalities that we unfortunately find throughout the public service and that the administration protects instead of releasing them. ”