Captain Paul McCarthy died from suicide in July of 2006 after suffering from job-related PTSD for 13 years. During his 21- year- career he was involved in several serious accidents including being hit and injured twice by drunk drivers and nearly killed in 1993 when he was run over by a stolen transit bus. This accident proved to be the etiology of the PTSD which ended up taking his life.

In the aftermath of Paul's death, his wife Janice and her children quickly became familiar with terms like "complicated grief"€ and "€œstigma€". And they soon realized that there lacked a support network for Survivors. The experience of being a Suicide Survivor is traumatic. Survivors need an inclusive community to help validate their emotions and negotiate through their grief to healing.

Unfortunately the reality for most Survivors is one of exclusion rather than inclusion and hence no safe community in which to experience validation or healing. It is C.O.P.S.S. mission to create this safe haven.

C.O.P.S.S. was founded in Paul's memory and dedicated to their three children: Paul, Shannon and Christopher, hence Prevent, Support and Care.

Our Story 

As a result of Paul's death, Janice has been involved in suicide prevention training for the past six years. She has spoken nationally, and internationally, telling her family's personal story in an attempt to reach officers on an emotional level. She appeals to officers as a cop's wife hoping that they might understand and appreciate their spouses' sacrifices. She speaks candidly and emotionally of her family's pain, hoping the officers might see their own kids in the images of Paul, Shannon and Christopher McCarthy. And she recounts witnessing firsthand her husband'€™s struggles, hoping the officers might associate themselves with Paul and realize the consequences of not reaching out for help when they need it. Listed below are some of the training sessions at which C.O.P.S.S. has presented:

  • In Harms Way Annual Conference
  • American Association of Suicidology Annual Conference
  • Recruit and officer in-service training- New Haven, CT
  • Major City Chiefs seminar- Massachusetts
  • Connecticut State Police Academy
  • CABLE (Connecticut Alliance to Benefit Law Enforcement)
  • Asian American Police Officers Association Annual Conference
  • Annual Law Enforcement Employee Assistance Conference, Harrisburg,
  • PA Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole CIRT
  • California Peer Support Association Annual Conference
  • FBI Employee training Philadelphia and New York
  • California Correctional Officers Conference
  • Catch A Falling Star Assistance Conference, Buffalo, NY
  • Southwestern Homicide Investigators Association Conference
  • Blue H.E.L.P. October 2017
  • FBI National Academy Quantico Virginia
  • 2018 IACP annual conference

"...I am certain that these sessions are eye opening for many administrators, and exactly what they need to hear. Far too often the trainings and updates are presented from the side of the officer, the department or the communities we serve but never from the "Blue families" that are also affected by "The Job."



"œ...I don't know the pain of losing a spouse, and all the pain that accompanied the years of suffering, but I do know Police Officers who have killed themselves. Many. It's ironic that through all the trainings I have been to on "mental wellness for law enforcement" and such, your presentation was probably the most on point! You are doing wonderful, real work."

"œ...I feel quite strongly, that departments I know of, with a few exceptions, do NOT "really"™ assist officers when they need mental health, stress management, debriefing, from incidents. Also, officers do not want to disclose stress, anxiety, etc, for the fear of having their weapon taken, being placed on desk duty, etc. It'™s very true and real and has not changed despite more attention on the subject."

"œ...You showed me I was not alone and there was a reason for me feeling what I was feeling. To make a long story short, I sought help and now I am in therapy. I thank you for possibly saving my life."

"...As a PTSD sufferer/survivor I can tell you that the work you do is extremely important and I appreciate you for doing it. Too many "manly" cops refuse to seekhelp and end up choosing suicide. I have lost a few friends from my time in Iraq to suicide and have felt first hand the hopelessness and loneliness that this brings. I have been blessed to have made it through the darkness but still struggle at times. I wish more cops and combat veterans would shed the macho men don't cry BS and seek help. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and it's not always a train! I have gone from holding my fully loaded service weapon, looking at it and trying to decide the least messy way to shoot myself, to snapping out of the darkness long enough to be afraid of myself. I think the most important message that you can give cops and vets is that there is help, asking for help doesn't make you weak and there is a recovery. Thanks again for all you do!"

"...My words cannot express what you do for our law enforcement community. The stress of the job has affected me personally. Although I'm on the job on a regular basis, I too have been through the "oh just suck it up mentality". I am currently in a regular mental health program. This had worked really well for me. That is, once I realized I needed it. Janice, my heart is with you and your family. I've been able to successfully control my mental health by first admitting I needed help."

"...Janice's dedication is above and beyond what is required; thank God for People like her.”

"...You are doing a great service to the Law Enforcement community, I personally know of many officers that need help but they just brush it off. Most officers think that if you seek help you are weak.I for one have sought help and it has helped me in so many ways. Keep up the good work."