YORK, Maine — It's not every day that you see police officers doing push-ups on top of their cruisers, but it is every day that veterans die by suicide.
That's why the York Police Department is taking part in a campaign to raise awareness and fight the stigma surrounding suicide. It is called the '22 Push-up Challenge.'
"We were willing to take the challenge, and are actually very excited to do it," Lt. John Lizanecz said.
Challenged by another police department in New York, officers have to do 22 push-ups over 22 days and post the videos to social media.
That number represents the average of 22 people who served our country that take their life each day in the U.S.
Suicide rates are steadily climbing across the board across the country and in Maine, including among law enforcement officers. Lizanecz said it is something he and his fellow officers understand all too well.
"We tend to solve everyone else's problems and we tend to overlook our own," he said. "It's sad to see these stories, and being in law-enforcement so long we see it again and again when we wish people would've just reached out for help and made that phone call."
The Department has posted 14 videos so far at various spots all over town.
Some of them have included people in the community, like health care workers at York Hospital and members of veterans organizations. Their K-9 has even done a video of its own.
"It's actually been a lot of fun," Lizanecz said.
Officers at other agencies across the state have been challenged to take part too.
With May being Mental Health Awareness month, Lizanecz and his team are hopeful their videos send a powerful message to their community: they are not alone.
"We're here to help whoever it is whether it's our own here at the police department veterans or the community in general especially in times of need," he said.
If you or someone you love needs help you can call or text the Maine Crisis Line 24/7 at 1-888-568-1112. You are not alone.