New UW Health class aims to lower first responder suicide rate

According to a 2021 report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 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.

First responders, including law enforcement officers, firefighters, EMS clinicians, and public safety telecommunicators, are crucial to ensuring public safety and health. First responders may be at elevated risk for suicide because of the environments in which they work, their culture, and stress, both occupational and personal.

“Their job is to rush in when everyone else is running away from the danger. We probably don’t recognize the emotional and mental toll always running towards danger can have on somebody,” said Dr. Michael Lohmeier, associate professor of emergency medicine for the UW School of Medicine and Public Health.

UW Health is partnering 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. to 5 p.m., Oct. 12, 2021
  • Location: UW Health Emergency Education Center, 610 N. Whitney Way, Madison
  • 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.