Officers learn ways to improve mental health in profession

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An officer resiliency training was held today to help law enforcement officers learn ways to improve mental health in their profession.

A group of 80 law enforcement officers from across Kansas attended the training in Wichita.

"The stress of the job, the things we see, the things we take away with us, after a while takes its toll," said Detective James Hook, mental health liaison for the Wichita Police Department.

Trainers included Dr. Jason Deselms with the Robert J Dole VA Medical Center, Pastor Dioane Gates with Mending Place of South City, and Kevin Briggs, a former California Highway Patrol sergeant who patrolled the Golden Gate Bridge.

"Don't be afraid to seek out help. There's a lot of resources. There's a lot of stuff online that we can do. I didn't seek help for a long long time. I suffered from depression and I didn't have to suffer," said Briggs.

According to the Blue H.E.L.P. organization, the number of deaths by suicide continues to increase in law enforcement. In 2019, there have been 163 verified suicides by officers in the United States. The number was 167 in 2018, 169 in 2017, and 142 in 2016. 

"We're always viewed as the tough cops," said Hook. "We're not there to bring up our own problems, our own issues, but at the end of the day, we're human. We have a life outside of the job. We have the same stressors that everybody else has."

For more resources on mental health related to law enforcement, click here.

The national suicide prevention lifeline is available 24-hours at 1-800-273-8255.

The COMCARE Crisis Center hotline for mental health emergencies and suicide prevention phone number is 316-660-7500.

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