Chicago Police Department releases video to encourage officers to seek mental health help

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Chicago Police Department released a new video encouraging officers to seek mental health support.

"You just get to a point, just end it, forget it all," explained Officer Cory Chapton.

Suicidal thoughts weighed heavily on Chapton as he sat for hours in his car after a shift a few years ago.

Chapton shares his emotional story in the eight-minute video, which was released on the heels of seven police officers suicides since last July.

"Because law enforcement is such a macho profession, you tend to keep things inside when you really should unpack it," said CPD Superintendent Eddie Johnson.

Johnson said he unpacked his pain years ago by reaching out for help while on duty as a sergeant. The video includes Johnson's story and those of two other former high ranking police officials.

"I didn't want to take my own life, but I didn't want to live," said former CPD Superintendent John Escalante.

Johnson's predecessor talked about his struggle during a painful divorce. Former CPD Deputy Chief Tina Skahill explained how she swallowed a bottle of pills while suffering from postpartum depression as a 29-year-old youth officer.

"I just didn't expect that type of feeling of depression," said Skahill.

All four who shared their stories reached out for help. Johnson said the point of the video is to show the rank and file getting help will not impact their career.

"All of us rose up in the ranks in the Chicago Police Department, it's important for them to know that you can do it," said Johnson.

The idea for the video followed the tragic December deaths of two officers who were hit by a train. The department provided counseling after the command staff had the gruesome job of recovering the officers' remains.

"We have to always let them know we have their back, go get treatment and the help you need, your job is waiting for you when you get back," said Johnson.

Supt. Johnson said the department is increasing the number of licensed clinicians to 11. He said CPD has come a long way since his days as a patrolman when he was given three days off and no counseling when he first experienced a police-involved shooting.
Copyright © 2020 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.