ChappellRoberts and Crisis Center of Tampa Bay launch first responders campaign

Tampa-based ChappellRoberts and the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay have worked together to create an awareness campaign that seeks to provide a lifeline to first responders in the Tampa Bay area.

Marking the observance of World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10, the “First to Respond. Last to Ask for Help.” campaign was created with the goal of preventing first responder suicide in Hillsborough County.

This pilot campaign, launching initially in Hillsborough County, features real first responders from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, Tampa Police Department and Tampa Fire Rescue. The campaign’s call to action encourages first responders struggling with thoughts of suicide to call 211 and confidentially speak with professionals specifically trained to intervene when someone is facing a crisis, according to a statement.

In 2018, 243 police officers, deputies and firefighters died by suicide, according to FirefighterCloseCalls.com, and a national survey produced by the Journal of Emergency Medical Services showed that 6.6 percent EMS professionals, of 4,000 surveyed,  had attempted suicide.

“As the wife of a first responder, I know all too well the gruesome and traumatic experiences they are exposed to each day,” said Colleen Chappell, president and CEO of ChappellRoberts, in the statement. “It is our hope that this campaign provides our community with greater perspective about the critical roles our first responders play. This is our way of trying to help those who risk their lives to help us each day.”

The Crisis Center hopes this campaign will promote additional resources and that is will expand to other communities, eventually supporting a dedicated hotline for first responders.

“These brave men and women bear witness to countless scenes of trauma during their career but face a stigma that prevents them from getting help,” said Clara Reynolds, president and CEO of Crisis Center of Tampa Bay. “This campaign will let our first responders know they are not alone.”

The “First to Respond. Last to Ask for Help.” campaign will run in Hillsborough County later this month. To learn more, please visit LastToAsk.com.

If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide or is in crisis, call 211 any day at any time to receive confidential support and counseling.

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