HomeHealthMental HealthProviding suicide prevention services to first responders

Providing suicide prevention services to first responders

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (KKTV) – September is suicide prevention month. 11 News hears from local first responders about the resources they make available to their staff.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, law enforcement officers and firefighters are more likely to die by suicide than while on the job. Aid workers tell 11 News that suicide prevention starts with ending the stigma surrounding it and having those emotional conversations.

Colorado Springs Fire Department experts tell 11 News they are taking the hard step by getting that protection. This is part of their peer support team. The team focuses on watching for warning signs.

“The most important thing we can do is not be afraid to ask the question specifically about suicide,” John Giacoma, Peer Support Leader, Colorado Springs Fire Department. “We need to know if they’re considering it. I think that’s the most appropriate thing we can do when we start to get that vibe or if it’s mentioned.”

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

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

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

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

All agencies tell 11 News that suicide among first responders is far too high and always preventable. To start with, 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. This is a free, confidential service through the ‘Responders Strong’ foundation. Anyone experiencing a psychological crisis can always call 988.

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