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Help First Responders - National Suicide Prevention Month

From police officers to firefighters, studies show that suicide continues to outpace other causes of death for first responders.

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Today’s blog I focus on these ordinary people called upon every day to do extraordinary things!

We all go into healthcare with a dedication and commitment to help. We take loans for school, we miss our children’s school and recreational events, major and everyday family events and milestones – all to be our best for others.

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With such high stakes - we certainly want to do our best for the people that need our care – whether it’s life-saving actions, bringing in a new life, or helping an old life to feel comfort at the end.

We need to help each other. Be a friend. Stay connected. Ask the questions. Look for help - together.

A white paper commissioned by the Foundation has revealed that first responders (policemen and firefighters) are more likely to die by suicide than in the line of duty. In 2017, there were at least 103 firefighter suicides and 140 police officer suicides. In contrast, 93 firefighters and 129 police officers died in the line of duty. Suicide is a result of mental illness, including depression and PTSD, which stems from constant exposure to death and destruction.
— Ruderman White Paper on Mental Health and Suicide of First Responders
photo: DOUG KANTER/AFP/GETTY

photo: DOUG KANTER/AFP/GETTY

The Ruderman White Paper on Mental Health and Suicide of First Responders, examined a number of factors contributing to mental health issues among first responders and what leads to their elevated rate of suicide. First responders on a call and do not arrive on scene thinking “Maybe I won’t go this time because I might have health or stress issues later.” In just one example 412 emergency workers died responding to the attacks on the World Trade Centers in NYC on September 11th.

Public safety is a difficult profession that can lead to mental health struggles – and those struggles cannot be left untreated. More police officers died by suicide than in the line of duty in 2018, as was the case the previous year and the year prior to that. A study commissioned by the Ruderman Family Foundation found that firefighters are also more likely to die by suicide than in the line of duty.
— PoliceOne.com Jan 2019
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The Code Green Campaign®

In March of 2014 one of our founders experienced the suicide death of a co-worker. In the days after she realized many of the first responders she knew had also lost friends and co-workers to suicide. A small group began discussing the stigma first responders face and what they could do about it. Code Green’s founders agreed that if there is one thing that first responders like to do it is tell stories. They felt that if first responders had an outlet to tell their stories anonymously that might reduce the stigma. This storytelling project evolved into The Code Green Campaign®.

The Code Green Campaign® is a first responder oriented mental health advocacy and education organization. Also known as Code Green, we serve all types of first responders. This includes firefighters, EMTs, paramedics, dispatchers, police, corrections, air medical, and search & rescue. Our name is a combination of the color for mental health awareness (green) and the “code alerts” used in emergency services. If someone is having a stroke or heart attack first responders will call a “code stroke” or “code STEMI”. The idea is that Code Green is calling a code alert on the mental health of first responders.

Additional resources include:

Safe Call Now – 1-206-459-3020
A 24/7 help line staffed by first responders for first responders and their family members. They can assist with treatment options for responders who are suffering from mental health, substance abuse and other personal issues.

Fire/EMS Helpline – 1-888-731-3473

Also known as Share The Load. A program run by the National Volunteer Fire Council. They have a help line, text based help service, and have also collected a list of many good resources for people looking for help and support.

Copline (Law Enforcement Only) – 1-800-267-5463

A confidential helpline for members of US law enforcement. Their website also has additional information on help and resources.

Frontline Helpline – 1-866-676-7500

Run by Frontline Responder Services. Offer 24/7 coverage with first responder call-takers.

Please like and share and check back for more information related to suicide prevention for Veterans.

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