October 1, 2021

New class aims to lower first responder suicide rate

Madison, Wis. – Rates of suicide for first responders in the United States are significantly greater than the general public, and UW Health is working with local first responders to help address this tragic situation.

Law enforcement officers and firefighters are more likely to die by suicide than in the line of duty, and emergency medical services (EMS) providers are 1.39 times more likely to die by suicide than the public, according to a 2021 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

First responders role in providing public safety and health care support makes them a vital part of caring for our community, but their jobs are incredibly stressful, according to Dr. Michael Lohmeier, emergency medicine physician, UW Health, and associate professor of emergency medicine, UW School of Medicine and Public Health.

“We expect our first responders to be there to care for us in an emergency,” he said. “But, who is looking after them when they are hurting?

UW Health is collaborating with the Center for Suicide Awareness to host a class on acquiring the tools to become more resilient. The class is on Oct. 12 at the Emergency Education Center in Madison.

Building up resiliency helps people who are negatively impacted by hostile events. After these types of events they recover faster and are more likely to experience post-event growth, Lohmeier said.

“We want all our valued first responders to have the tools that allow them to thrive in their lives on and off duty,” he said. “We hope people see this message and contact us about the class.”

First responders are encouraged to register for the class.

  • When: 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Oct. 12

  • Location: UW Health Emergency Education Center, 610 N. Whitney Way, Madison, WI

  • Who can attend: First responders who are struggling or contemplating suicide, EMS, fire and police professionals and volunteers; leaders and training officers who want to support team members.

  • Register