Community Leaders Launch First Responder Suicide Prevention Campaign
Tampa, Fla. (Sept. 10, 2019) — “First to Respond. Last to Ask for Help.” This is the name of a candid campaign unveiled today with the goal of preventing first responder suicide in Hillsborough County. Marking the observance of World Suicide Prevention Day, the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay and branding/advertising agency ChappellRoberts were joined by Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister, Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan and Tampa Fire Chief Nick LoCicero to shed light on the distinct challenges faced by first responders and how this vital campaign will ultimately save lives.
Inspired to find a solution to the growing number of first responder suicides reported in the news, ChappellRoberts approached the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay with the idea of developing an awareness campaign that could illustrate the impact of trauma on first responders and provide these dedicated men and women with a literal lifeline of support.
“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. “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.”
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 Recue. 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.
The Crisis Center hopes this campaign will champion additional resources to expand the campaign to other communities and eventually support a dedicated hotline for first responders, given the unique challenges they face in the line of duty.
“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.”
Tampa Mayor Jane Castor emphasized the important role first responders play in the health and well-being of a community. Speaking from her personal experience as Tampa’s former police chief, she conveyed the vital nature of this initiative and encouraged our entire community not only to thank first responders for their selfless work, but also to offer support and help. Representing law enforcement, fire rescue and EMS leaders from Hillsborough County and Tampa’s first responder units expressed the importance of asking for help.
Ensuring no one in our community has to face crisis alone, the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay fields hundreds of calls each month from people on the verge of taking their own life.
Megan Vila, who lost her brother to suicide, shared with the audience how the “First to Respond. Last to Ask for Help.” campaign provides hope to first responders and their families.
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.
About the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay
The mission of the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay is to ensure that no one in our community has to face crisis alone. The organization is the community’s gateway to help, hope and healing, and is Tampa Bay’s elite provider of crisis and trauma services. Responding to over 170,000 requests for help each year, the nonprofit agency offers a range of evidence-based programs designed to meet community needs:
-Corbett Trauma Center (trauma counseling and sexual assault survivor services)
-Gateway Contact Center (211: suicide prevention, crisis counseling, and information and referral services)
-TransCare (911 emergency and mental health ambulance services, medical van transportation, community paramedicine)
ChappellRoberts drives results with unexpected ideas for its clients through branding, advertising, digital experiences, public relations and marketing. Proudly marking its 40th anniversary, ChappellRoberts is located in Tampa’s historic Ybor City. For more information, visit chap