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First responders dying more to suicide than in the line of duty, health officials say

Bakersfield hosts first ever mental health symposium
Posted at 7:00 PM, Oct 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-22 22:00:09-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — First responders make sacrifices every day to help those in dire need, but along the way, the rigors of the job can spiral into post traumatic stress.

These men and women in uniform are dying at higher rates of suicide than they are in the line of duty, according to Jeff Fariss, the Emergency Medical Services coordinator at the Kern County Public Health Services Department.

In an effort to raise awareness, Kern County health officials held a mental health symposium at Bakersfield College, the first ever in Bakersfield.

"There has been a stigma attached to reaching out for health; silence is strength, asking for health shows weakness," Fariss said.

The event highlighted this is issue, along with the dangers of Post Tramautic Stress Disorder.

Several first responders told 23ABC News that it was encouraging to see how much support they had at the event.

The best part is, you're hearing peers in your field talk about real experience," Casey Rosdail, a firefighter in Ventura County said.

Many first responders who have dealt with PTSD shared their experiences at the event.

"That is the way you are going to win over most of the people in the fire department, is to hear from people just like you," Rosdail said.

Kern County health officials said local first responders who need help can call Behavioral Health and Recovery at 661-868-5000.