Professionals talk mental health maintenance with Gulf Shores Fire Dept.

Baldwin County

GULF SHORES, Ala. (WKRG) — Research shows more firefighters died from suicide in 2017, than they did in the line of duty.

So a new project by the Council on Substance Abuse (COSA), is aimed at teaching first responders how to identify and respond to victims who may have mental health issues, as well as how to identify when their peers – or themselves – are in crisis.

“They see so much trauma. They’re under so much stress, that sometimes they’re fellow coworkers can develop a mental illness,” said Beverly Toodle, the group’s project director.

According to data on the flyer COSA handed out to firefighters Wednesday afternoon, 103 firefighters committed suicide in 2017. By comparison, 93 died in the line of duty.

“Often times, we push mental health away, so it can be overlooked in our job,” said Nick Russell with the Gulf Shores Fire Department.

The session included how to identify early warning signs of mental illness, how to respond, and how to come forward when you notice yourself having a problem.

COSA has a 24-hour hotline for anyone going through trauma – whether you are a first responder or not. That number is (877) 435-7425

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