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Lynchburg police launch new wellness program for officers' mental, physical health

Law enforcement says suicide is one of leading cause of deaths for police

LYNCHBURG, Va. – Officer Kayla Young is a seven-year veteran with Lynchburg police.

In that time, she’s responded to some gruesome calls.

“Being in the room with her and her son who just committed suicide was pretty tough,” Young said.

Young said, “Back then we didn’t have anything in place for people to say, ‘Are you OK? That was something tough, are you OK? To have that now, is just a great improvement.”

That great improvement is the new Wellness Program the department launched a few days ago.

“It’s chaotic every day we go to work and that could have a huge impact on the mental wellness on an officer,” Deputy Chief Mark Jamison said.

Jamison helps run the program. He says one of the leading causes of death for officers is suicide.

“For years, law enforcement agencies would tell them to suck it up. His question to me was where ‘it’ goes when you tell them to suck it up. Well, unfortunately for cops most of the time that’s at home,” Jamison said.

To help get ahead of the trend the wellness committee has officers and their families reading a surviving law enforcement guidebook.

On and off the clock officers will receive physical, emotional, spiritual and financial guidance.

“If an unfortunate situation does occur they’ll be financially better in a situation through savings or whatever that may be,” Jamison said.

Police say at some point the goal is to also have every officer, at least once a year, venting to a therapist.

“I’d love to see someone, everybody participates in some aspect. Whether or not you can run a 5K. There’s something else,” Young said.