May is Mental Health Awareness month and we want anyone who is struggling to know they are not alone. Earlier this week our deputies responded to a call for service regarding a teen having suicidal thoughts. Usually we don’t speak much about these kinds of calls, but we think this is an important message to share. Below is a message from a family member of the teen – we hope this not only shows you that it is okay to not be okay, but it’s also okay to ask for help.
by a Santa Cruz parent
“THANK YOU SANTA CRUZ COUNTY SHERIFF DEPARTMENT”
Parents please check on your teens.
This will be a bit long, but I hope you will read it.
As I sit here on my sofa, exhausted from emotions, yet overwhelmed by the goodness of God and how he always knows who to send, at just the right time I will try to share my heart with you.
I struggled to share this but I think it is so important. I have a teen that has been struggling with severe mental health issues for nearly two years. This began long before the COVID happened. For over a year we had been trying to help him. Then just as he finally found some help and began seeing a real change this pandemic started and along with it his treatment stopped (it was a specialized treatment that was shut down during COVID). We have been in survival mode for over a month and a half.
Today my child couldn’t take it anymore, the loneliness the panic the anxiety, the stress of life, and said he wanted to die. That he thinks daily about suicide. So I called his doctor that in turn said to call 911. So I did. The 911 operator said that they had several higher urgency calls ahead of me and didn’t know when they would make it. Coming from San Jose (we just moved here) I figured oh well they won’t show up. I then headed to my garden and started up the stairs to my front door. I looked up and five masked police officers were all surrounding my son. Not in a bad way, not in an intimidating way but in an ” I got you buddy” protective way.
Those MEN stood there with my child, speaking with him, engaging him, encouraging him...then a Therapist showed up, also masked and with a bulletproof vest on. Nothing says I am here to help like a therapist in a bulletproof vest. This therapist got down on his knees to get eye to eye with my buddy, he talked to him, listened to him, showed him love, compassion, kindness, and genuine care. Every single one of these men were incredible. There was so much love in that space.
After they all walked away, after giving us a plan of course, one officer broke away from the others, walked back down the steps to my son who at the time was left sitting on the garden ledge, with his head down while tears flowed. The officer took off his mask and said “Hey man I want you to know when I was your age I had severe panic and anxiety, I couldn’t even leave my room. Look at me now, I don’t have it at all, bud…it gets better I promise” My son looked up at him with hope in his eyes and a smile then said “man you have no idea how much that means to me, you really don’t” the two of them smiled at each other, the officer walked away and my son let the tears flow. I held him as close as I could and told him how brave he is.
Today was hard, but it will get better. I am sharing this story with you because I want anyone else struggling through this journey to know they are not alone. I want parents to please check in with your child/children. My son was brave, he was brave to tell me he had suicidal thoughts…because he could have held it in like so many teens do and the only way to find out is to find them after it is too late. The officer told us that there is a huge influx of teen suicide right now. So please check on your babies.
Today we will give thanks to God for the Santa Cruz County Sheriff Department, for this incredible community and for the hope of a bright future ahead for my son.
Have a HOPE filled day.”
You may feel alone, but you never are. To quote one of our Deputies — ‘It gets better, I promise.’
Deputy Adam Roberts, Deputy Robbie McClure, Deputy Nathan (Jack) Calhoun, Mental Health Specialist Kurt Churchill and Deputy Kris Koenig, are the men who responded and we are thankful to have them on our team.
Pictured are our two Behavioral Health Clinicians that work as Mental Health Liasons for the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office. They work with our patrol staff to provide clinical support and respond to 911 calls related to behavioral and mental health crises.