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Law enforcement officers working to prevent first responder suicides

Posted at 6:39 AM, Jan 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-24 06:39:14-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Suicide among first responders in Florida is a problem.

But Capital Regional Medical Center is working to prevent it here in the Big Bend.

It's a Shocking statistic.

At least 228 police officers died by suicide in 2019 across the country.

That's according to a nonprofit in Massachusetts that tracks those numbers. 15 of those were in Florida!

So far this year, 9 deaths have been verified across the nation. Now one officer from Tallahassee is on a mission to save lives.

"For the last year I've been dealing with PTSD and other mental illness issues that I've gotten from the job," siad Chad Holiday, Former LCSO deputy.

Chad Holiday is a former Leon County Deputy. One of many first responders who have have struggled with mental health.

He says the weight of the job can take a toll. "You have to be this big persona, you have to be this strong person," said Holiday.

TPD officer Sean Wyman knows how hard that can be too. Now he's working to help other first responders deal with that trauma.

"It's okay to reach out and talk to somebody whether that's a peer or somebody you work with a supervisor or even going outside," said Wyman.

And trains other officers how to have difficult conversation.

90 percent of responders don't reach out because of the stigma of getting mental health assistance.

Wyman says that has to change. "We've got to change the transition from suck it up and drive on. To it's okay to not be okay."

Recent research shows more first responders are dying by suicide than in the line of duty.

Which is why Wyman and Holiday both say "We need to let people know that it's okay to be hurt but also we need to have those resources in place to find the help that they need."

Things like increased anxiety and depression, flashbacks and nightmares are some things to look out for.

And experts say if someone does tell you they are having thoughts of suicide whatever you not promise secrecy to them because the situation may escalate and you may have to tell someone.