GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Linda Skrycki is a former probation officer overcoming severe depression that nearly caused her to take her own life.
Skrycki reached out to FOX 17 after our story on law enforcement suicides aired on Monday May, 6th.
Suicide is a leading cause of death among those working in law enforcement.
Some departments in West Michigan have programs to help, but Skrycki said there is room for improvement within those departments.
Skrycki told us her goal is simple, she just wants people to listen when others are crying out for help.
“I don’t want another person to die,” she said.
Skrycki grew up with a police officer for a father and knew she would eventually follow a path into law enforcement.
“It was my dream job,” she said. “I loved what I did.”
As a probation officer, she would help decide the fate of convicted criminals, sex offenders and child abusers.
It was important work, but difficult for her to leave at the office.
“It was hard to come home to my children, who were the same age of the children in the pictures, and they were being abused,” said Skrycki.
The stress of the job was magnified by personal tragedy.
“In August of 2009, my son Adam passed away. He had a massive heart attack,” she said. “I would sit in my room at night and basically try and drink myself into oblivion. I had thought throwing myself into my work would make things better, they steadily got worse.”
Instead of getting help, Skrycki said she was put on probation which only compounded her anxiety.
Doctors diagnosed her with severe depression but at work she couldn’t get support.
“If we can’t support our public servants when they need our support… look at what we are asking them to do,” she said.
After seeing the initial FOX 17 report on law enforcement suicides, Skrycki felt compelled to join the conversation.
She said the best way to tackle mental health issues is with education.
“I kept asking my supervisor to read about it,” she said. “Please, just read about depression.”
Education, in her opinion, could help with the perception that people in law enforcement can handle anything and shouldn’t have to ask for help.
“We are asking them to put their lives on the line for us, but when it takes its toll they don’t get back what they need,” said Skrycki.
The former probation officer was not the only person in local law enforcement to reach out to us after the original story aired.
FOX 17 also heard from a retired Grand Rapids Police Officer who said he’s been living with depression long after he put the badge down and hopes education will help people open up and discuss suicide more often.