By Bernie Kellman CICERO, N.Y. (NCC News) — Our first responders spend their days saving others, but who do they turn to when they need help themselves?
On Thursday night police officers, 911 operators, and other first responders gathered at the Cicero Fire Department to attend a forum on suicide awareness and prevention. According to Karen Nicholas, Cicero EMT and firefighter, the job takes a heavy toll on people emotionally and it can be difficult to seek help.
“I guess it depends upon your personality, or whatever, but you always want to maintain a tough exterior,” Nicholas said. “There are certain calls especially when there are children or abuse or stuff like that that makes it worse.”
While first responders may want to maintain a tough persona, Cheryl Giarrusso, Contact Community Services Crisis Intervention Director, says events like the one Thursday night are critical for starting the conversation of suicide awareness in an at-risk community.
“I’m not sure that they are most at risk, but I am certain that their risk is elevated,” Giarrusso said. “Because they see things. They see things that are probably pretty horrifying.”
According to George Barrett, Cicero Fire Department Deputy Chief, one of the most important duties as a leader at the station is to remind others that there is no shame in reaching out for help.
“I like to say ‘No I’m fine’ are probably the three most dangerous words in public safety,” Barrett said. “I’ll remind the rookies and even the senior guys, I have been through a lot of [traumatic events] and I have had to seek help myself.”
The message from Thursday’s event was simple and clear. While first responders may do their best to stay strong for the community, no one is superhuman. The first step for those who need help with mental health issues is always reaching out to talk about it.
If you or anyone you know may need help with mental help issues you can reach out to Contact Community Services at 315-251-0600 or visit their website for more.