The Fort Worth Fire Department has launched a new program, they hope will save lives within their own ranks.
Soon, all 950 members of the department will know how to spot the signs of potential suicide in first responders and more importantly how to help.
“The Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) training provides an easy-to-remember method for approaching the uncomfortableness of discussing this issue with people potentially at risk for harming themselves,” Fort Worth Fire Chief James Davis said. “The FWFD shares the Jordan Elizabeth Harris Foundation mission to eradicate suicide in our community.
“We’re all broken from time to time and it’s OK to ask for help,” Davis said. “For the first time in the history of the fire service, a couple of years ago, suicide out-paced line of duty death from structure fires.”
Since 2015, yearly, more firefighters and police officers have died by suicide than in the line of duty. It is a statistic that has held true every year since.
“We will be sharing this with people as a part of the on-boarding process as we train our new recruit firefighters,” Davis said. “Secondly, we will build this into continuing education that we provide in the EMS side – the healthcare side of what we do on a daily basis.”
The training started right after the Christmas holidays and will continue in 75 sessions until all members of the department have been trained.
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“We see this as an ongoing issue. It’s related to a lot of different factors – everything from the amount of runs and the types of situations that our folks encounter to fatigue and fatigue management,” Davis said. “External pressures that they have in their own lives. Folks that bring live experiences to us that might be stressful.” The issue affects all levels of firefighters from rookies to veterans. There will also be a focus on retirees and those preparing to retire – helping them plan a life away from firefighting.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text HOME to 741741 or visit SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional information.