Providing suicide prevention services to first responders

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, law enforcement and firefighters are more likely to die by suicide than in the line of duty. If you or someone you know is a first responder seeking mental health support, text ‘BADGE’ to 741-741. That’s a free, confidential service through the foundation, ‘Responders Strong.’ Anyone facing a mental health crisis can always call 988.
KKTV News This Morning (Recurring Sunday 6 a.m.)
Published: Sep. 24, 2022 at 12:05 PM MDT|Updated: Sep. 26, 2022 at 5:43 AM MDT
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. 11 News is hearing from local first responders about the resources they provide to their staff.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, law enforcement and firefighters are more likely to die by suicide than in the line of duty. First responders tell 11 News preventing suicide starts with ending the stigma around it and by having those emotional conversations.

Experts with the Colorado Springs Fire Department tells 11 News they take the hard step by having that conservation. This is part of their peer support team. The team focuses on watching for warning signs.

“The biggest thing we can do is to not be afraid to ask the question specifically regarding suicide,” John Giacoma, peer support leader, Colorado Springs Fire Department. “We need to know if they are considering it. I think that’s the most appropriate thing we can do if we’re starting to get that vibe or if it’s been mentioned.”

Colorado Springs Police Department tells 11 News they ask their staff to share their stories, no matter how difficult. The department says over the last two years, they have provided counseling services to their staff, including therapy, yoga and meditation. The department says it is important to know that their officers are taking care of themselves.

“There’s somebody out there that cares about you,” said Sgt. Jason Newton, Colorado Springs Police Department. “There’s somebody out there that needs you in their life. You may not know that at that time, but that citizen may need you tomorrow.”

El Paso County Sheriff’s Office tells 11 News they have been addressing this issue for a couple of years now. The department says they offer their staff a psychologist for hard times. The department also has a peer support group that has been trained for over 40 hours for these type of situations. The department treats it as a judge-free zone by keeping all matters confidential.

“We’re a team,” said Sgt. Jason Garrett, El Paso County Sheriff’s Office. “We’re a family. Not only do we exist to support each other in the context of this job every day, but our community as a whole supports us significantly.”

All of the agencies tell 11 News suicide among first responders is way too high and can always be prevented. For starters, by offering a listening ear and your service.

If you or someone you know is a first responder seeking mental health support, text “BADGE” to 741-741. That’s a free, confidential service through the foundation, “Responders Strong.” Anyone facing a mental health crisis can always call 988.