Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance

 

Jeff Dill

 ~ a retired Fire Captain and also a Counselor, he founded the Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance, whose mission is to raise awareness of mental health issues affecting firefighters and EMTs in an effort to decrease the growing number of suicides among them. Through outreach and education, FFBHA aims to better educate counselors and chaplains as to the different culture of the Fire service as well as provide firefighters and EMTs with training and workshops to prepare them for life before, during and after Service.

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For 26 years a firefighter, Jeff began as a volunteer and then went career in 1995.  FFBHA was founded after Hurricane Katrina – when firefighters from Palatine Rural Protection Fire district came back from rendering assistance, they wanted to see their EAP counselors to discuss the emotional impact of what they had experienced in New Orleans.  Unfortunately, the feedback on their experiences was that the counselors didn’t understand the firefighter culture.  

Jeff wanted to find a way to change that.  He went back for his Masters in counseling and in 2009 founded Counseling Service for FireFighters with the aim of educating his brothers and sisters on depression and anxiety.  But in 2010, he started getting calls from Departments around the country asking if he knew anything about firefighter suicides.  At the time, Jeff didn’t but soon realized, when he tried to collect the data, that no one was keeping records on this topic.  
FFBHA is a 501c3 and is the only service in the U.S. that tracks and validates data on suicides among firefighters and EMTs.  

Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance   ffbha.org

On the day of the interview less than 3 weeks ago, there were 92 suicides reported for 2015. Today, the 10th of November, this number has increased to 99. With estimates of a 30% reporting rate among those who know about FFBHA, the actual number of firefighters suffering from behavioral health issues is projected as being much higher.   

There appears to be insufficient training to raise the awareness of these men and women to understand how what they are going to see and experience on the job can affect them emotionally. 
The work of the FFBHA helps to spread the word about the factors that can lead to suicidal thoughts or actions, but it as a way of also reducing the number of addictions, untreated depression and anxiety through education and awareness.  

WORKSHOP THEMES
1. be direct when talking to each other
2. challenge with compassion - if you see or hear something
3. do an internal size-up of whats happening in your life

Jeff and his crew train the fire fighters to take a personal inventory of themselves to understand how their circumstances are affecting them, and how these situations have changed since the days of the structure fires alone.

WORKSHOP PROGRAMS
* Ambassador Program:
Enroll firefighters and counselors into FFBHA protocol to provide greater reach nationally

* Saving Those Who save others
In depth training in firefighter and ems suicide awareness and prevention,including warning signs specific to the fire service
Communication and Role-play exercises to prepare for direct communication in times of need

* A firefighter's life
A program for chaplains and counselors wanting to work with fire and EMS personnel to understand the culture. Participants get to gear up and practice a Search and Rescue exercise to better understand the rigors of the job.

* Saving those who save others family edition
Recognize how lifestyle is affecting families and children

* Behavioral health program development class
Essential elements needed in the creation of behavioral health program tailored to Fire and EMS

* Saying Goodbye and Emotional Detachment:
  a workshop for those entering retirement from the fire service, as perceived loss of identity following separation is problematic.

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 FFBHA is in the process of updating their website .
The new site will provide more resources of trained counselors for available states. In the meantime, you can find the contact details of current FFBHA ambassadors who may be closer to you  at ffbha.org
 
  - -
 
 
 5 Bugles 4 Change
To let people know that those members who sign up are dedicated to making changes in behavioral health in their organizations. Fire Chiefs, training officers, chaplains and even firefighters who sign up receive a certificate to this effect.
 
  - -
 
The National Fallen Firefighter foundation has a memorial for firefighters lost in the line of duty.
With the success of the family retreat program, an upcoming FFBHA project is a Memorial Site for fallen brothers and sisters lost to suicide, where family can visit and pay their respects.

Contact

Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance ffbha.org
  3655 W. Anthem Way
  Suite A-109-374
  Anthem, AZ 85086

Office: 847-209-8208
FAX:   623-388-3642
info@ffbha.org

Linked-in: Jeff Dill

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Suicide Prevention is Necessary

 

Julie Goldstein Grumet, Phd

~ Director of Prevention and Practice at the Suicide Prevention Resource Center speaks about the many programs and resources available via SPRC.org
The Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255 (suicidepreventionlifeline.org)
The Veterans Crisis Line is also available 24/7  at     1-800-273-8255 Press 1 (veteranscrisisline.net)

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September is Suicide Prevention Month

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States – AND it is preventable. September is suicide prevention month.  The International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP), collaborates with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Federation for Mental Health, to host World Suicide Prevention Day on Sept. 10, 2015. ‘Preventing Suicide: Reaching Out and Saving Lives’ is the theme of the 2015 World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD). This year’s theme is designed to encourage all of us to consider the role that offering support may play in combating suicide.

Suicide touched my own life in a profound way when my youngest brother, Scott, took his own life on July 1, 2007. I witnessed his struggle for many years. I talk more about this experience and how my family grieved in the accompanying episode of The Coaching Through Chaos Podcast, but for this post, I'm going to stick to facts that I want to share. As most of this information is cut and pasted from relevant sites dedicated to suicide prevention and research, credit is given accordingly.

Why do we Need Suicide Prevention Education & Resources?

General Statistics (as posted by save.org)
• Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US for all ages. (CDC)
• The suicide rates decreased from 1990-2000 from 12.5 suicides per 100,000 to 10.4 per 100,000. Over the past decade, however, the rate has again increased to 12.1 per 100,000. Every day, approximately 105 Americans die by suicide. (CDC)
• There is one death by suicide in the US every 13 minutes. (CDC)
• Depression affects 20-25% of Americans ages 18+ in a given year. (CDC)
• Suicide takes the lives of over 38,000 Americans every year. (CDC)
• Only half of all Americans experiencing an episode of major depression receive treatment. (NAMI)
• 80% -90% of people that seek treatment for depression are treated successfully using therapy and/or medication. (TAPS study)
• An estimated quarter million people each year become suicide survivors (AAS).
• There is one suicide for every estimated 25 suicide attempts. (CDC)
• There is one suicide for every estimated 4 suicide attempts in the elderly. (CDC)

The Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC.org)

If you knew someone who was suicidal, or you work in a community where there were no active suicide prevention programs, would you know where to turn? Today’s episode features Julie Goldstein Grumet, Ph.D., who is the Director of Prevention and Practice at the Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC.org). The SPRC is the nation’s only federally supported resource center devoted to advancing the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention. They provide technical assistance, training, and materials to increase the knowledge and expertise of suicide prevention practitioners and other professionals serving people at risk for suicide. They also promote collaboration among a variety of organizations that play a role in developing the field of suicide prevention.

Who does SPRC.org serve?

The SPRC website can be a reference guide for both Professionals in the community (teachers, care givers, therapists, first responders, etc.) and individuals (teens, parents, survivors of suicide, etc.). There is even state-specific information on programs and community resources. From their website they specifically serve:
• Suicide prevention grantees: Garrett Lee Smith Suicide Prevention Grantees funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to support suicide prevention work in Campus, State, and Tribal communities.
• State suicide prevention coordinators and initiatives: individuals and groups in the state with the lead for statewide suicide prevention.
• College and university staff involved with suicide prevention efforts on campus.
• American Indian/ Alaska Native communities: Individuals working with native populations to support suicide prevention and mental health promotion.
• Health and behavioral health care providers who play a role in identifying and helping individuals at risk for suicide.
• Professionals providing social services in their community and organizations that can help reduce suicide rates among the populations they serve.
• Members of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, the public-private partnership dedicated to advancing the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention

Risk Factors for Suicide (as posted by SuicidePreventionLifeline.org)

• Mental disorders, particularly mood disorders, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders and certain personality disorders
• Alcohol and other substance use disorders
• Hopelessness
• Impulsive and/or aggressive tendencies
• History of trauma or abuse
• Major physical illnesses
• Previous suicide attempt
• Family history of suicide
• Job or financial loss
• Loss of relationship
• Easy access to lethal means
• Local clusters of suicide
• Lack of social support and sense of isolation
• Stigma associated with asking for help
• Lack of health care, especially mental health and substance abuse treatment
• Cultural and religious beliefs, such as the belief that suicide is a noble resolution of a personal dilemma
• Exposure to others who have died by suicide (in real life or via the media and Internet)

The Suicide Prevention Lifeline and SPRC feature the following as Warning Signs of Suicide:

The following signs may mean someone is at risk for suicide. The risk of suicide is greater if a behavior is new or has increased and if it seems related to a painful event, loss, or change. If you or someone you know exhibits any of these signs, seek help as soon as possible by calling the Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

• Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves.
• Looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online or buying a gun
• Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.
• Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
• Talking about being a burden to others.
• Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.
• Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly.
• Sleeping too little or too much.
• Withdrawing or isolating themselves.
• Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
• Displaying extreme mood swings.

What should everyone know?

- Suicide is preventable. Recent research is beginning to show a correlation between suicide prevention programs and decreases in suicides in those areas.
- Most people that are thinking about suicide absolutely feel hopeless and wish for feeling better, not necessarily to die. The wish to die often is born out of the despair and hopelessness.
- If someone verbalizes a suicidal thought, you should absolutely take it seriously. It’s imperative to share that thought with someone who can intervene and assess futher. You might feel uncomfortable about that, or your friend may ask you not to tell anyone, but jeopardizing your relationship is much wiser than pleasing them in that moment.
- Talking about suicide, or asking someone if they are suicidal will not cause them to become suicidal. There are some people that “just get depressed”. While that may hinder their life and their well-being, they don’t move into a suicidal state. On the other hand, there are other people who may not even present as outwardly depressed but have suicidal thoughts when problems develop in their life. If you are concerned about someone you know, ask them if they have suicidal thoughts. Whatever answer you get will be better than never having asked.

 

 
VeteransCrisisLineLogoNational Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Be part of the conversation - show your support on social media!

The people at Suicide Prevention Lifeline ask that when sharing about suicide prevention to use the following tags to support their campaign to raise awareness for suicide prevention: #BeThe1To (help someone else)

and for Veterans: #JoinThePowerof1

Resources

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255): You can call this number 24/7 to speak to someone about how you are feeling or to get help for yourself or someone you care about.

The Suicide Prevention Resource Center - SPRC.org : The nation’s only federally supported resource center devoted to advancing the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention. They provide technical assistance, training, and materials to increase the knowledge and expertise of suicide prevention practitioners and other professionals serving people at risk for suicide. They also promote collaboration among a variety of organizations that play a role in developing the field of suicide prevention.

SuicidePreventionLifeline.org: Not only can you call them at 1-800-TALK, but you can life chat with someone online, get information specific to helping young adults and veterans as well. They also provide resources on bullying, how to get help in your area and have other information you may need when feeling suicidal.  Their online resources are also provided in Spanish.

Save.org : The mission of SAVE is to prevent suicide through pubic awareness and education, reduce stigma and serve as a resource for those touched by suicide.

Zero Suicide Program - zerosuicide.sprc.org : This is an SPRC program designed and committed to preventing suicide in health and behavioral healthcare systems. The approach of Zero Suicide is based on the realization that suicidal individuals often fall through cracks in a fragmented, and sometimes distracted, health care system. To do this, Zero Suicide requires a system-wide approach to improve outcomes and close gaps in the systems for better preventative care.

The National Strategy for Suicide PreventionA Report of the U.S. Surgeon General and of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention

The National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention - The public-private partnership advancing the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention