Vestavia Hills PD holds training for coping with depression

Published: Mar. 29, 2019 at 5:41 PM CDT
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VESTAVIA HILLS, AL (WBRC) - First Responders in Vestavia Hills learned more about coping with depression and possible suicide on Friday.

In 2017, 47-year-old Vestavia Hills officer Robert Hancock took his own life while on duty. It was a event that shook many on the police force.

“It really brought to life to a lot of us that this is something that happens we hear about but you don’t see it until you have to deal with it,” Capt. Johnny Evans said.

A group of people with the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services addressed Vestavia Hills officer and firefighters about the growing number of first responders committing suicide.

“The research shows they are more likely to die by suicide than in the line of duty,” said Annette Rowland with the Alabama Dept. of Rehabilitation Services.

The main message was to watch for sudden differences in themselves or colleagues.

“A change in behavior. If you notice someone is acting differently they have in the past they are showing signs of depression,” said Andrea Carroll with the Alabama Dept. of Rehabilitation Services.

Experts said one of the biggest problems for officers or firefighters is admitting there is a problem.

“They don’t want to be seen as weak. They don’t want to be seen as needing help so sometimes it’s difficult for them to ask for help,” Carroll said.

A lesson many hope to learn after the loss of Hancock.

“Since we have started this training we have become aware of some things looking back on it we probably should have,” Evans said

First responders are put under a lot stress and they may deal with emotional scenes. Friday’s training also dealt with dealing with those who might be considering suicide.

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