We’re 13 days into December and #devotedecember is gaining remarkable traction. Chris and I are so pleased that Firefighter and EMS suicide awareness is widening. Thank you so much to everyone that has participated, reached out, reposted, shared and asked questions. We appreciate you all! We’ve both met some great new allies and some remarkable humans along this journey. We are grateful for your support and for standing shoulder to shoulder with us to fight.
We’d like to reiterate that although physical fitness, sleep and nutrition are closely tied to mental health, #devotedecember is an AWARENESS campaign, not a fitness/training campaign. Therefore, there is no such thing as “didn’t start on time”, “missed a few days, so I’m quitting” or “I’m hurt right now, so I can’t work out”. If you participate ONE time and tell ONE other person what you’re doing, that’s a huge win for Firefighter and EMS suicide awareness. Your devotion might be a training modality such as flights of stairs, but it might also be meditation or education. We just ask that you continue to help us spread the message.
To recap, first responders may be perceived as heroes, but they are not superheroes. They are HUMAN. Every remarkable act ever done by a Firefighter or medic is completed by a human—a human whose mind can never erase what they see. A mind that is sleep deprived by the mere design of our schedule and a mind that faces every challenge that every other human faces: relationship issues, money problems, addiction and mental health challenges.
We would also be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge our dispatchers, our law enforcement officers as well as our military. They face similar challenges and rates of suicide. Our hearts break for our brothers and sisters in those careers.
When Chris and I initially discussed this initiative prior to Thanksgiving, the total number of validated suicides was 113. It increased to 114 prior to even beginning the month of December. We saw the number quickly climb to 116, 118, 119 and now it’s at 122 since Tuesday. You should also be aware that we follow suicide statistics that are validated by the Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance and information continues to come in. Just because 12/31/19 comes and goes, that’s not the end. The total will continue to climb.
So what? The bottom line is this: our Firefighters and EMS personnel stand ready to serve you day and night; 24/7/365.
Just held a dying child in our arms while they took their last breaths and now you have a belly ache?
We absorb and buffer trauma that you’d never know can even exist. We feel the pain of every loss with every family. And we stand ready to respond to the next call with professionalism, compassion and usually never knowing how our previous call was resolved.
The loss of even one Firefighter or EMS personnel to suicide is one too many. Will you get involved with #devotedecember to help us spread the word and give HOPE?
Annette and Chris
Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
IL Peer Support: 855-90-SUPPORT or https://www.ilffps.org/contact/