First responders are the first people to assist at the scenes of emergencies. They include law enforcement, firefighters, correctional officers, EMS, dispatchers, and 911 operators. Therefore, they face an increased risk of experiencing behavioral health issues, including mental illness. Fear of being seen as weak or not up to the job of a first responder keeps many from seeking help.
The Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation provides evidence-based gatekeeper training from our ARPA First Responder QPR Instructor grant. This project aims to equip key first responder personnel with the confidence and competence needed to initiate conversations about suicide with colleagues, instill hope, and refer at-risk colleagues to appropriate mental and behavioral health resources. After participants become certified QPR instructors, they can access supplemental resources on the QPR website, which include information and resources in gatekeeper training presentations specific to first responders.
Police officers and firefighters are more likely to die by suicide than in the line of duty.
85% of first responders have experienced mental health complications.
Depression and PTSD are 5 times more common in first responders.
35% of police officers experience PTSD.
18-24% of 911 operators and dispatchers experience PTSD.
25% of first responders are at a high risk for suicide.
Exposure to incidents that put the first responders or those around him/her at risk for death or severe injury
Witnessing or participating in incidents where rescue involves preventing death of mitigating serious or severe injury
Previous suicide attempt
History of depression and other mental illness
Job/financial problems or loss
Impulsive or aggressive tendencies
Loss of relationships
Sense of hopelessness
Existing mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD
Expressing hopelessness, despair, anger, or rage
Appearing sad or depressed most of the time
Feeling anxious, agitated, or unable to sleep
Neglecting personal wellbeing
Withdrawing from family and friends
Losing interest in day-to-day activities
Frequent and dramatic mood changes
Expressing feelings of excessive guilt or shame
Feelings of failure or decreased performance at work, home, or other daily activities
Feeling like there’s no reason to live
Increased alcohol or substance use
Talking about death, saying goodbye, or giving away possessions
Life Side Ohio is a campaign of direct, suicide prevention outreach dedicated to the firearms community.