By Irene Rotondo
Mental health awareness is crucial across all careers and organizations, and one police officer from Massachusetts is bringing it to light within his own industry by walking 219 miles through the state.
Officer Doug Kingsley used to serve in the Army National Guard, and has been working for the Sherborn Police Department since 2019. In that same year, he lost one of his soldiers to suicide. Then, in 2021, he lost a friend to suicide from his police officer academy class.
According to Blue H.E.L.P. — an organization created in 2015 to bring awareness to suicide and the mental health issues of law enforcement — 986 law enforcement members have died by suicide in the past five years, and 105 in 2022 alone to date. And according to AddictionCenter.com, “Police officers are at a higher risk of suicide than any other profession.”
Kingsley made the decision after the deaths of those he knew to commit himself to raising awareness for officer and military suicide prevention.
In a statement on his cause’s website, CopWalkMA.com, Kingsley said, “I am walking to honor the memories of those who have passed. I am walking to raise awareness for the resources that are available.”
“I am walking to prove that we are not alone in this profession, even though, at times, it might seem like it. There are people who love you, there are people who care, and even a complete stranger could change your life for the better,” he continued.
Kingsley began his walk on Oct. 12 on the New York State Line on Route 23 in Egremont. Those interested can follow his journey through his Instagram and Facebook page, and he has invited any “officer, firefighter, EMT, dispatcher, family member, and/or friend” to join him on any parts of his walk.
According to WWLP News, Kingsley made a stop on Friday at the Western Massachusetts Regional Police Academy in Springfield to speak to the current 64th ROC about his walk.
This is Kingsley’s route:
Start: New York State Line—Route 23 Egremont
Day 1 — October 12
- Great Barrington
Day 2 — October 13
Day 3 — October 14
- West Springfield
Day 4 — October 15
Day 5 — October 16
Approximate Halfway Point
Day 6 — October 17
Day 7 — October 18
- West Bridgewater
Day 8 — October 19
Day 9 — October 20
- Sagamore Bridge Crossing
- Cape Cod
Day 10 — October 21
Day 11 — October 22
End: Chatham Light House—37 Main Street
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