The film “Break Every Chain,” an adaptation based on a book by police officer Jonathon Hickory, portrays his real-life battle with depression, alcoholism and loss, and how counseling and faith helped him overcome in his darkest moments.
The film is a true story based on Jonathon Hickory’s life. Hickory, a Charlottesville-area police officer, is now traveling around the country screening the film for law enforcement groups and families to inspire fellow officers.
“I really think it’s going to reach and speak to a lot of people and change a lot of lives,” Hickory said.
Hickory joined the police force when he was 23, full of enthusiasm for public service and protecting the community.
However, after being exposed to trauma throughout his career and dealing with personal issues, Hickory began to take refuge in substance abuse.
“When I was younger, I experienced some childhood trauma,” Hickory told WTVR 6. “I lost my father at the age of 12 and never really faced that.”
Hickory’s nightmares worsened after being assigned to fatal crash reconstruction duty.
“I became a fatal crash reconstruction officer, and I was really starting to see a lot more death and dealing with those families and it was really taking its toll on me. I thought I was the only one struggling and that I was somehow broken or weak or different,” Hickory said.
Relying on alcohol to cope with his emotions, his personal and professional life began to spiral out of control, to the point where he almost took his own life.
“There was a series of events that I wrote about in my book that led me to the point where I just didn’t feel that there was any other solution, other than taking my own life,” Hickory said.
Fortunately for Hickory, he was able to overcome his issues through faith in God and counseling services.
In his book, Hickory explains how attending his church’s men’s support group helped him heal from the trauma. Later, Hickory admitted that he also received help from a police psychologist, but left it out of the book at the time due to shame.
He has since re-edited his book to affirm that there is no shame in reaching out for help.
“I really feel God laid it on my heart at that moment,” Hickory says. “It’s changing lives and it’s making a difference.”
Hickory’s story reflects an unrecognized and growing problem in the law enforcement community.
Blue H.E.L.P., a suicide awareness and mental health organization for law enforcement, documented 90 suicides among police officers this year alone.