Mental health conversation becoming more important among first responders

Local News

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — This week, central Ohio is still mourning the loss of a first responder over the weekend.

The Upper Arlington Police Officer died by suicide, but according to Blue Help, this is far from an isolated incident. 

The organization reported 228 police officers died by suicide nationwide in 2019. It’s those statistics that have departments like the Columbus Division of Police working to keep their men and women mentally healthy.

“I think it’s our duty and obligation to highlight the stress that first responders, not just police officers but first responders, even emergency room personnel that are sharing in this exposure to traumatic incidents and, you know, human beings weren’t built to do that,” said Commander Rhonda Grizzell of the CPD’s Wellness Bureau.

Last summer, Columbus decided to invest in their officer’s mental health by creating the Wellness Bureau. The Bureau is there for officers after a traumatic incident, but also before anything happens. They are working on education, treatment, and prevention.

Grizzell said she is already seeing improvements after the eight months the bureau has existed.

“I think we just keep driving that point home and educating officers as they are coming in and eventually the culture will change, but it’s going to be an effort,” she said. “It’s going to take a group effort.”

If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide help is available. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to speak with a counselor at 1-800-273-8255.

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