Preventing Suicide : A Resource For Police, Firefighters And Other First Line Responders

Suicide is recognized as an important public health problem and a major source of preventable deaths worldwide. For every person who commits suicide, there are 20 or more who will attempt suicide. The emotional impact for family and friends affected by completed or attempted suicide may last for many years.

First interveners, such as police officers, firefighters and other responders are often a first line resource for people who have significant mental health, emotional, or substance abuse problems and who may be suicidal. Yet, they are often not well trained in the signs and symptoms of serious mental illness, nor do they always know the most appropriate actions to take when suicidal behaviours are a concern.

Police officers, firefighters and other first line responders are increasingly called upon in situations involving mental health emergencies, such as suicidal crises. Consequently, they occupy an important role in community-based suicide prevention: by ensuring that persons with mental disorders receive appropriate mental health treatment, by removing access to lethal means from people at high risk of suicide, and by recognizing the suicide potential in situations involving domestic disputes or where potentially deadly force is exercised. First responders are in a unique position to determine the course and outcome of suicidal crises.

Their respective institutions may help reduce suicides in the community: by ensuring that first line responders are appropriately trained to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental illness, to identify the risks of suicide, and to understand local mental health legislation and how it is used by community 4 agencies, by developing specialized programmes to help them manage mental health and suicidal crises in the field, and by helping to create the inter-agency linkages needed to facilitate access to health and mental health care.

This booklet is written for police officers, firefighters and other first line responders who deal with people in psychological distress, including those who are suicidal. They are often the first ones involved in situations where suicidal behaviours, such as a suicide threat, suicide attempt or completed suicide, have occurred. They work in crisis situations where prompt and efficient interventions are needed and are therefore called "first interveners" or "first responders". This may also include those who first contact the family and friends of a person who committed suicide,

A Suicide Prevention and Postvention Toolkit for Texas Communities

The 2012 edition of this toolkit was designed with both the print reader and digital reader in mind; the layout has been altered to make it easy to read in any format, whether online, on a mobile device, or in print.

Additionally, you will find that copies of paper documents, fact sheets and handouts have been replaced with direct hyperlinks embedded within the online version (and visible in the print version). By providing electronic access to these resources, the 2012 Texas Suicide Prevention and Postvention Toolkit facilitates the ability to access critical, most current information, tools and research efficiently and effectively. 

This year’s edition also incorporates best practices resources, training and education materials made available from leading national organizations such as: 

  • American Association of Suicidology 
  • American Foundation for Suicide Prevention 
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 
  • Mental Health America 
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness 
  • National Institutes of Health 
  • National Institute of Mental Health 
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 
  • Suicide Awareness Voices of Change 
  • Suicide Prevention Resource Center 
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration 


As we are all aware, suicide is a public health issue. By working together to facilitate change in our communities, we are confident we can make Texas a healthier and happier state for all. 

A Guide for Early Responders Supporting Survivors Bereaved by Suicide


Early responders play a vital role in supporting people who have lost someone they care about, someone they know who has died by suicide. Suicide loss is profoundly different than otherloss and grief in that it is a intentional act that can have crippling effects for the family, friends and other survivors.  Suicide is recognized as an important public health problem and a major source of preventable deaths worldwide. (WHO, 2009) 

Many people die each year by suicide… it is a complex, multi–faceted problem leaving some survivors who have a loved one die by suicide with their life as they knew it changed forever. Suicide can affect survivors in many life areas including having biological, psychological, social and spiritual impact. Research shows those closest to the person who died by suicide are themselves vulnerable to self harm including substance abuse. Survivors may be at 40X greater risk of suicide themselves because ofthe suicide loss. (LivingWorks Canada, 2006)