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If you are a health care or public safety professional and you are struggling with stress, trauma, and the added effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, you’re not alone.
Let’s be honest and directly address the subject of suicide prevention. The statistics for frontline professionals are troubling. The law enforcement, firefighting and emergency service communities continue to suffer losses to suicide at unacceptable rates. Suicide is impacting the health care profession as well.
It is reasonable to expect that you may be negatively impacted by the stress and trauma you face each day, and you are not alone. Frontline professionals share many similar experiences — and often internalize these experiences in similar ways. You may be harder on yourself than anyone else, and you may have moments where the stress, pressure, and emotional distress build to the point of feeling unbearable.
But there is hope. If you are feeling hopeless or trapped, and experiencing suicidal thoughts, it is imperative that you reach out.
If you are hesitant to talk to someone, we encourage you to overcome this barrier. There are safe, confidential ways to talk about what you’re struggling with. From 24/7 hotlines to peer support, there are people who understand what you’re going through, and are ready to listen.
Some barriers are helpful. Firebreaks stop or greatly impede a raging fire and can save lives. Some barriers are dangerous, even deadly, and they need to be broken down. Stigma is such a barrier.
You may fear talking to someone or even confiding in a colleague because you’re afraid of what they might think. You may feel that asking for help is a sign of weakness — after all, you’re in a tough profession and you handle a lot of recurring stress. You may also worry for your career and reputation if you do reach out. Seeking assistance is not a sign of weakness; instead, it signifies strength. The support you receive when you reach out will build on the strengths that you already have.
As a professional in problem-solving fields like public safety and health care, you already know that it takes action to address issues and solve problems. If you knew a colleague was in distress, you would want them to reach out to you. If you knew that a fellow physician or a fellow officer was considering taking their own life, you would do anything to help. You would support the person serving next to you — and they would do the same for you. Your life is valuable and the work you do in your community is valuable. And there are many reasons to have hope.
There are also many avenues of support to choose from, including free, confidential and professional support options, as well as peer support resources.
NAMI is committed to preventing suicide and supporting frontline professionals. You are not alone.
If you or someone you know is in crisis — whether they are considering suicide or not — please call the toll-free National Suicide Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) to speak with a trained crisis counselor 24/7.
If you don’t want to talk on the phone, you can also text. Crisis Text Line offers free 24/7 mental health support. Text “10-18” or “SCRUBS” to 741741 for help.
Safe Call Now is a confidential, comprehensive, 24-hour crisis referral service for all public safety employees, all emergency services personnel and their family members nationwide. Call 1-206-459-3020 or 1-877-230-6060.
Call the NAMI Helpline at
In a crisis,