Sometimes all it takes is for a couple of guys to bond over their love of football and chat about life to make things better. Tennessee man Charles Matherson learned that after hitting his breaking point June 5 when he called a crisis hotline to report his life had become “just a burden to me,” he told Collegedale, TN officer Sammy Previlus over that phone call.
Previlus, who has been trained in handling mental health crisis calls, snapped into action, according to a department Facebook post which describes what happened next once Previlus interacted with Matherson, a big Steelers fan.
“While speaking with Matherson, the officer, an NFL fan, saw a Ben Roethlisberger Steelers jersey hanging in his closet and asked Matherson if he had a Terrible Towel, an iconic symbol of the Pittsburg Steelers. Matherson said no. They had always been too hard to find and he couldn’t afford to buy one for himself. So Previlus decided to use their shared membership in the ‘Steelers Nation’ to connect with a man in need,” the department said in its post.
“Officer Previlus was able to gain Matherson’s trust, talk him down from the edge of crisis, and get him to the mental health professionals that could help him.”
Monday, the police department was back at Matherson’s apartment with gifts. Officer Previlus brought a Terrible Towel and a football signed by the police department for his new buddy.
“I wasn’t expecting that!” Matherson told officers. “I still got it in the box it came in. I’m not going to take it out.”
Collegedale, a city of 11,000 just east of Chattanooga, sits in Hamilton County where a major focus has been placed on training Crisis Intervention Teams to handle these calls to free up other officers to fight crime.
“I think a lot of people that police respond to just need someone to care,” Previlus said. “You don’t have to do much to leave a lasting impact. Just a thoughtful gesture goes a long way. There’s more to law enforcement than just enforcing the law.”