Fort Worth

Nearly 1,000 Fort Worth Firefighters Get Training to Recognize Suicide Risk

Goal is to educate firefighters, who are at higher risk because of the stress of their job, study shows

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It’s a startling statistic: Since 2015, more firefighters and police officers are dying by suicide than in the line of duty, according to a report.

In January, nearly 1,000 Fort Worth firefighters will take a course to learn to spot the signs of someone at risk for suicide.

According to a report published in 2017 by the Ruderman Family Foundation, almost 250 firefighters and police officers died by suicide in 2016 across the United States, as compared to just over 200 that died in the line of duty.

Kristi Wiley is teaching Fort Worth Firefighters how to ask questions, and save lives, with QPR training.

The acronym stands for "question, persuade, refer."

“We need to ask the question, if we think someone is struggling, then we want to persuade them to stay alive,” said Kristi Wiley, program director for the Jordan Elizabeth Harris Foundation.

The statistics stunned Fort Worth fire Lt. Kaleb Kemp.

“The fact that suicide rates in firefighters are higher than the line of duty is kind of an eye opener,” said Kemp, who took Friday’s training.

He said calls that involve children are the worst.

“You think about them all the time. It’s like if you lost a loved one. If that person had died on the scene when you’d been there. It’s a loss to you,” Kemp said.

“I hope these guys apply it to their own lives, their own crews, their own families, and it begins to spread," said Fort Wort Fire Department Chaplain Brent Sanderson. "Statistics show when QPR is taught widely, suicide statistics go down. Hopefully we can lead the charge on that."

Friday’s event was just one of over 70 sessions that will train everyone on the Fort Worth Fire Department on QPR in January.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 provides people in distress, or those around them, with 24-hour support. The Crisis Text Line allows people to text 'Home' to 741-741 to connect with crisis counselors.

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