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New video focuses on firefighters coping with suicide

July 30, 2013
by Shannon Brys, Associate Editor
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The Carson J Spencer Foundation, in partnership with the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, and the American Association of Suicidology, recently launched a new video entitled Firefighters Coping with the Aftermath of Suicide, detailing self-care steps, peer support measures, suicide warning signs, and available resources to assist firefighters nationwide in coping with suicide.

“Fire service professionals can sometimes be overlooked when thinking about the impact of suicide. When a suicide occurs, their role often shifts from rescuer to fellow griever. This can sometimes be challenging for firefighters who may be unprepared for the intense, complicated, and lengthy trauma involved with suicide,” said Sally Spencer-Thomas, CEO and Co-Founder of the Carson J Spencer Foundation and producer of the video.

The video features real firefighters, many from South Metro Fire Station 34 of Lone Tree, Colo., who describe their struggles in coping with the difficulty of a suicide call or the suicide of a fellow firefighter and how vital it is for fire safety departments to work on raising awareness of this issue among firefighters, who are trained to face traumatic events but are sometimes unprepared for the unique trauma associated with suicide.

“AAS is proud to be affiliated with this effort to recognize and mediate the impact of suicide on firefighters, as first-finders.  We hope this video helps the healing that must come after such a loss,” said Alan L. Berman, PhD, Executive Director of the American Association of Suicidology. 

Jeff Dill, founder of Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance, said, “What a tremendous honor to be involved with this project. It addressed the need to educate my brothers and sisters on behavioral health, especially in the area of firefighter suicide awareness and prevention and subsequently the pain that families and fire departments must deal with and coping skills they need after a loss."

Colorado Fallen Firefighters Foundation, Fire and Life Safety Educators of Colorado, the Beanstalk Foundation, and dozens of individual donors supported the funding of this project.

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