In Belarus, suicides among law enforcement officers are not uncommon. Reflecting on these incidents, one is compelled to contemplate the such twist of fate, as past actions of suppressing the Belarusian Revolution and persecuting dissenters seem to return as a haunting consequence.
In Kobryn, on either July 8 or 9, 2023 (the exact date remains unclear), Dmitry Demchik, the Deputy Chief of the local Criminal Investigation Department, ended his life by suicide. The method of suicide is currently unknown, as the Ministry of Internal Affairs traditionally withholds such information, at least until until the investigation is completed.
From what is known: Dmitry Demchik was 38 years old and he left behind four children. Almost his entire career was connected to the Kobryn District Police Department. Eight years ago, he served there as a district police officer and later became an operative in the criminal investigation unit. In 2018, he was promoted to the rank of captain and eventually became the Deputy Chief of his department.
According to human rights activists, Dmitry Demchik took part in the political persecution of the district residents after August 2020. It sheds light on a common practice in provincial areas, where specialized units like the Main Directorate for Combating Organized Crime and Corruption (GUBOPiK) are often few in number or non-existent, leading regular police officers to handle opposition-related cases.
In Belarus, there have been confirmed reports of four suicides among law enforcement personnel in 2021 alone. One of the reasons, according to experts, is the prevailing stigma within the Belarusian law enforcement community surrounding seeking psychological help. Moreover, any attempt to seek such support is often met with ridicule from colleagues, leading to exclusion from promotion lists by higher authorities.
Overall, within the law enforcement agencies, psychologists are predominantly perceived by ordinary officers as tools of additional pressure, akin to punitive organs. Alternatively, they are seen as an additional obstacle during employment, which needs to be overcome, leading to a lack of trust. However, the outcome of such an approach results in chronic stress, challenges in family life, excessive cruelty in the workplace, alcoholism, and ultimately, suicides.