FAIRPORT, NY (WROC) — Retired Rochester Police Sergeant Eric Weaver was hospitalized multiple times in his 22 year career for suicidal thoughts and attempts on his own life. He’s been using that trauma to help thousands of others cope while serving in law enforcement.
“So many officers walk around that have severe trauma and they’re afraid to go talk to anybody,” says Weaver.
In the shadows, he struggled with mental illness, the experiences on the job, too much to bear.
“In the fall of 1995, I told my wife at the time that I was having suicidal thoughts and I wanted to kill myself,” he says.
The police culture in the mid 90s he says, not willing to hear much on psychiatric issues. Weaver quietly took time away to Clifton Springs Hospital for treatment. But it didn’t solve the problem.
“So I worked though it harder, and tried to be tougher and all that kind of stuff.”
Weaver found more responsibilities were being taken away from him in the RPD. He hit rock bottom. He isolated himself in a locker room in the Public Safety Building, wanting to take his life alone, so no one would have to witness the act. He took out his gun.
“All of a sudden I heard some water in the locker room in the bathroom,” he says.
That running water, a sink that came on. No one in sight. The urge to take his life, washed away for the moment. “So I know that was God’s blessing right then and there,” he says.
Weaver went back to the hospital, admitting himself a total of six times before retiring in 2005. Through his career and up to today, he’s used his experiences to help 35,000 first responders all over the country. His new book “Overcoming the Darkness”, teaches others how to rise above.
“Even though I’m in recovery (and always will be), returning didn’t take my PTSD and suicidal thoughts away….I’ll be living with mental illness for the rest of my life. But at least now I know how to manage it. Recovery is possible. People do get better. Families do heal,” he says.
‘Overcoming the Darkness’, a consulting and training group, is experiencing an upsurge in clients requesting mental health training for law enforcement. Founded in 2010 by Eric Weaver, he has been providing multiple programs to both the community and law enforcement to reduce the stigma of mental illness. He has recently added five consultants, all experienced in law enforcement, who are working with community agencies in conducting intensive training regarding Trauma, Suicide Prevention, Officer Wellness, Crisis Intervention Training, and various other mental health related topics.