Law officers resistant to seek emotional help in spite of high stress and dangerous job

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DENVER -- It is one of the most stressful jobs in America. Round-the-clock shifts, high divorce rate and it can be very dangerous.

When a fellow police officer is killed, the trauma resonates like a shock wave to those men and women who wear the badge.

Dr. Susan Heitler is a clinical psychologist in Denver and has treated many men and women in law enforcement who have felt the pain of losing one of their own.

“Anyone who feels something in common with the person who’s been wounded or killed, is going to feel more frightened themselves as well," she said.

For many in law enforcement, seeking help is perceived as a sign of weakness.

“It’s a concern that it will look bad on the record. It’s a concern that they might look bad in front of others, and partly they just don’t realize that counseling can help," she said.

Heitler said inroads to emotional help have been made, but there is still a long way to go.

“Emotional trauma response healing should be provided like physical healing is provided routinely for everyone who is out there protecting us and helping us in emergencies," she said.

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