May was Mental Health Awareness Month, and suicide prevention is a major focus. First responders must intervene when a community member is in crisis, and knowing how best to handle the situation is critical. On May 4, the Mountain View Public Safety Foundation (MVPSF) presented A Leap Not Taken, an educational event open to the public to help first responders combat the rise in suicide and understand their own risk as well.
About 100 people attended, mostly first responders working in police and fire departments. They learned about strategies such as "listening to understand," recognizing compassion fatigue, focusing on quality of life to reduce their own risk, and recognizing when colleagues may need help.
"Suicide is a growing problem for Mountain View, and sadly, it is increasingly a problem for first responders, especially in law enforcement," Amber Wilson with the MVPSF said. "Our focus these past three years has been to bring mental health training and awareness to our local Bay Area first responders, at no cost to them or their agencies, to help save lives. Law enforcement officers have a 54 percent increase of suicide risk over a civilian. We feel it's crucial to bring in mental health training as often as we can. So, on behalf of MVPSF, I am grateful for the partnership with El Camino Health. Their generous sponsorship allowed us to bring in two powerful and impactful speakers."
Retired California Highway Patrol sergeant Kevin Briggs, known as the "Guardian of the Golden Gate," and Kevin Berthia, suicide survivor and prevention advocate, were the primary speakers. Dr. Mark Adams, El Camino Health's chief medical officer, introduced the primary speakers and shared with the attendees that El Camino Health was pleased to sponsor the training because we know of the increased pressures and stress facing first responders. In the afternoon, Renee Lopez-Delfino, LMFT, program coordinator for Scrivner Center for Mental Health & Addiction Services at El Camino Health, provided training for attendees on vicarious trauma, its impact and the path to resiliency.
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