As first responders we have a lot of pride and because of that we feel like we can never show weakness. We see the unimaginable day in and day out and after a bad call we just push our feelings aside and we move on to the next one. We get so caught up in looking hard on the outside we fail to admit that we are falling apart on the inside.
In addition, we worry about asking for help or talking about what we are going through because of either how our co-workers will look at us and/or it affecting our careers. Those of us who are veteran first responders have seen at some point in our career, a fellow first responder pushed out of the department for seeking help.
The stigma within the first responder community has to end. Change cannot happen until we start speaking up, asking for help and looking out for our fellow brothers and sisters. Nobody understands what you're going through more than the people within our own departments. It's time to stand up and fight for our own well being as well as the well being of our brothers and sisters!
Please don't wait until you're at the point of severe depression or contemplating suicide to get help. We have resources available to you that are FREE and COMPLETELY CONFIDENTIAL. All it takes is a call or even an email to reach out to us. Please let us help you. We have lost too many officers this year. We do not want to add your name to that.
It is time to de-stigmatize mental health and well being within our first responder community. Wanting to reduce suicides is one thing--accomplishing it is another. It can only happen when mental health becomes a priority and all ranks accept the means as necessary to accomplishing the end. Saying, “Get help when you need it” isn't enough anymore. We need to say, “Get help BEFORE you need it”.
PTSI is diagnosed after a person experiences symptoms for at least one month following a traumatic event. However symptoms may not appear until several months or even years later. The injury is characterized by three main types of symptoms:
Diagnosis criteria for adults
Exposure to actual or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violation:
The presence of one or more of the following:
Screen yourself or a family member for PTSI
Persistent avoidance of distressing memories, thoughts, or feelings about or closely associated with the traumatic events or of external reminders (i.e., people, places, conversations, activities, objects, situations)
Two or more of the following:
Two or more of the following marked changes in arousal and reactivity:
Also, clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning not attributed to the direct physiological effects of medication, drugs, or alcohol or another medical condition, such as traumatic brain injury.