THE suicide of two young policemen on the same day has highlighted the urgent need for the force to rethink its counselling programme. At present, there are just two police psychologists to cope with the needs of more than 27,000 officers. Their work-load is extensive, with all officers involved in shoot-outs compelled to attend a session. Last year they conducted more than 800 consultations and are now operating at the limits of their capacity. Police want to employ a third psychologist. But it is questionable if even this will be enough to handle the serious problem of suicides. Not for nothing has police work been labelled one of the 10 most stressful jobs in Hong Kong. Surveys have found the force suicide rate to be double that of the general population. In many cases, gambling debts are to blame. But, in others, the cause is not so easy to discern. Thursday's double suicide is one example of this. Both constables had clear records, although one was reportedly ridiculed by colleagues due to his stutter and mainland accent. Their deaths come only 10 days after a detective shot himself in Tai Hing station. This trio of suicides within the past fortnight highlights the need for more than just extra psychologists. Procedures must also be reviewed. At present, some of the officers most in need of counselling may be reluctant to request it. They fear this will be entered on their personnel records and so mar their promotion prospects. Such concern is so pervasive the police welfare branch has previously had to add the Samaritans to its list of counselling services distributed throughout the force since calls to them are treated in confidence. But this is an unsatisfactory solution since in-house psychologists are much better equipped to cope with the problems of fellow officers. Far preferable might be some form of anonymous counselling service for use within the force. Failing this, more should be done to re-assure constables that coming forward to seek help will not constitute a black mark on their career. Either way, action needs to be taken before more such tragedies occur.