Nearly 1,000 Fort Worth firefighters will undergo training in suicide prevention, the city said in a posting on its website.
Suicides among firefighters and police officers have been increasing nationally and in 2015, for the first time, more died by suicide than in the line of duty. That trend has continued in the years following.
“The members of The Fort Worth Fire Department are highly skilled, well trained and prepared to give their all for others,” Fort Worth Fire Chief James Davis said in the posting. “While they understand that risk, the expectations of the occupation place them at risk of stress, anxiety and depression. Suicide has become a great issue of concern in the fire service, outpacing line-of-duty death since 2015.”
A report published in 2017 by the Ruderman Family Foundation said almost 250 firefighters and police officers died by suicide in 2016 compared to just over 200 who died in the line of duty. The Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance estimates that only 40%-45% of firefighter suicides are reported.
The Jordan Elizabeth Harris Foundation through a donation provided by Bell Flight, is providing training for the entire Fort Worth Fire Department.
The foundation was founded after the suicide of its namesake in 2012 and provides suicide prevention training and education for children and adults, as well as depression research funding.
The class aims to teach individuals how to recognize signs of suicidal ideology and how to take action to prevent suicide.
While the focus is to educate firefighters about their peers and their families, it also gives them tools to take into the community and provide a higher level of service to residents, the website said.
“The Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) training provides an easy-to-remember method for approaching the uncomfortableness of discussing this issue with people potentially at risk for harming themselves,” Davis said.
“The FWFD shares the Jordan Elizabeth Harris Foundation mission to eradicate suicide in our community. We appreciate the efforts of Tom and Ellen Harris in the memory of their daughter, and we thank Bell Flight for their gracious financial support to make this training available to our firefighters and emergency medical technicians,” Davis said.
QPR training will be taught in 75 sessions to accommodate nearly 1,000 firefighters. Classes are being taught by individuals from three local organizations: the Jordan Elizabeth Harris Foundation, 22Kill/Stay the Course (a counseling group for first responders, veterans and their families) and the Local Outreach to Suicide Survivors team.
– FWBP Staff