Deputy Sheriff Leaves Position to Take 2,400 Mile Bicycle Trip For Mental Health Awareness

March 20, 2018

“None of them knew I was taking all of this home with me every night, and it was mentally killing me.”

These are the heartbreaking yet action-inspiring words of Monica Quesnell, a deputy sheriff in Milwaukee who has seen one too many ‘grisly’ scenes in her career and is compensating in a way many of us only dream of, according to the Journal Sentinel.

Quesnell thought she was used to encountering rough scenes, but after the incident that occurred on May 7 of last year, she had enough.

Quesnell was dispatched to I-94 south of Ryan Road in Milwaukee to find that a man and his rental car had pulled over to the side of the road. The man then stepped out in front of a semi-truck with, according to the driver, “his arms out like Jesus.”

The dark suicide scene was still shaking Quesnell days later, when she was trying to enjoy a vacation she scheduled in Utah, at Zion National Park.

“I couldn’t stop replaying the scene. I kept seeing the truck driver, in tears and barely able to speak, explaining to me how he had to turn his windshield wipers on to clear the blood so he could pull over. After a long career as a truck driver, this man told me he didn’t think he would be able to drive a truck again. I kept thinking of the man who was hit and why he chose to jump in front of the truck. I thought of the mom and her two small children who witnessed the suicide,” she said.

Upon returning from her vacation, Quesnell left her job with three weeks’ notice.

Now, Quesnell and her friend, Anna Nagel, are planning to spend three months during the summer biking a whopping 2,400 miles through California and into Oregon. They’ll be camping and staying with friends and at Airbnbs along the way.

A study conducted by the British Medical Association found that coronary heart disease was reduced by 50% when people cycled 20 miles a week, but for Quesnell, regaining mental health is the primary goal. She also hopes to spread awareness about two main issues that highly relate to one another: law enforcement officer deaths, and mental health/depression.

There were 66 law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty in 2016, and 93% of surveyed officers said that they have become more concerned about the dangers of the job. But figures show that more law enforcement officers nationwide die of suicide than are killed in the line of duty. This is the primary issue Quesnell hopes her mission will shed some light on.

Quesnell will be documenting her experience in her blog, Bespoke Happiness, which she’s also turned into a brand. You can read her personal recount of her experience both during and after her career in as a deputy sheriff here.

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