CLINTON COUNTY, MO (KCTV) -- Its clear suicide is a public health issue that can’t be ignored. In Clinton County, officers learned tools to recognize PTSD and find support.
Any call could be the one that changes a police officer’s life.
“You see the death of a child. A severe accident,” Vanessa Kennedy, the Code1 Wellness CEO, Founder, said.
The sheer number of traumatic calls can also take a toll.
“We see things that you would normally only see in war,” Sgt. Ryan Jensen, who is the Founder of Clinton County Law Enforcement Association, said.
Kennedy said even when an officer saves a life, they can carry the mental images and memories.
“I’ll never forget the gentleman. His face never leaves my mind. It’s something I think about all the time,” Kennedy said.
“We all deal with trauma and loss differently until we figure out how that process works for us, it can overwhelm us,” Jensen said.
“The biggest thing is we have got to be okay with talking about it,” Kennedy said.
For too long, Kennedy said police officers believed they couldn’t discuss mental health.
“You need to suck it up. It’s your job. That’s what you signed up to do,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy hopes mental health education will give officers the tools and treatment needed to save their own lives. She hopes to soon offer online counseling.
“Most of us work very hard to protect the public, protect our families and protect others but we really have to make sure we also protect ourselves,” Jensen said.
Kennedy wants to meet with federal and state leaders to discuss funding a 24-7 mental health facility for law enforcement in the Midwest.
“Let’s talk. We really need to talk,” Kennedy said.
If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.
For more information on mental health classes for first responders and their families, visit the Code1 Wellness website.