Grand Prairie

North Texas Police Department Wants to End Silence Around Mental Health

The Grand Prairie Police Department is encouraging conversations about mental wellness, with one of its top brass talking openly about her experiences with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

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Police officers are often thought of as having a tough exterior, but the Grand Prairie Police Department is encouraging officers to open up and talk about the things that trouble them.

"There are injuries to our brains that are unseen," Grand Prairie Assistant Police Chief Christy Martinez said. "Sharing your story and being vulnerable I think is the key component to getting healing."

Martinez shared her story in hopes it would help fellow officers.

"I went through a mass church shooting," Martinez said.

She is a survivor of the 1999 shooting at Wedgwood Baptist Church in Fort Worth. Since then, she has witnessed other people's pain in her job.

"If you haven't dealt with PTSD... it does come out eventually, and at about the 10-year mark, it came out for me," she said.

Martinez said there were dark times.

"I was at the point of taking my own life," Martinez said. She got help instead. "I think it's very important that we spread the word that it's OK not to be OK, but silence is not the answer."

Martinez and the Grand Prairie Police Department have posted the 22KILL sit-up challenge on social media. 22KILL is an organization that helps military and law enforcement talk about their mental health issues. The "22" refers to the number of military veterans who die by suicide each day.

"So the name 22KILL is in your face and for a reason," Blake McGee, a therapist with 22KILL, said. "We want that pill to be hard to swallow because that is an epidemic that needs to be addressed."

PTSD can happen after someone goes through or witnesses a traumatic event. Nearly 8% of the U.S. population has PTSD, but that number is 35% among law enforcement.

"I want them to know that they can seek help and their job is safe," Martinez said. "Our fellow brothers and sisters need to look out for one another. We are past the age of pretending everything is OK, it's just part of the job. We've got to get beyond that."

If you or someone you know needs help, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number is 1-800-273-8255. You can also send a text message to 838255. Click here to learn more about 22KILL.

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