By Wyatt Massey, Times Free Press:
Area first responders are seeking ways to help not just the communities they serve but themselves by bringing attention to the issue of suicides within the profession.
A Sept. 6 conference sponsored by the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network at Hixson United Methodist Church featured national speakers, as well as breakout sessions on specialized topics, such as how to support peers in law enforcement, assessing suicide risk in people, incorporating trauma-informed policing and how to have the difficult conversation about suicide with someone.
A main objective of the conference was to remove the stigma of talking about personal struggles in an industry that is focused on helping others first.
Stephen Kavalkovich, CEO of Rescued Consulting, shared his own story of addiction and a near-death experience because of the weight of being a first responder. Kavalkovich wrapped his identity in being a firefighter and a paramedic, thinking he was stronger than what he was seeing on a daily basis, he said.
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