On December 20, 2019, Public Act 101-0617 was passed, creating the First Responders Suicide Prevention Act. This Act is intended to address a troublingly high suicidal rate for first responders across the state. Due to repeated and unrelenting exposure to stressful and traumatic circumstances which first responders must face on a daily basis, long-lasting mental health effects, including depression, anxiety, and PTSD, have been more prominent amongst these professions, leading to a disproportionate amount of deaths caused by suicide.
Under the First Responders Suicide Prevention Act, any emergency services personnel and public safely personnel hold the right to seek assistance through an employee assistance program or peer support counselor. By providing such services, it allows law enforcement employees to recognize the signs of cumulative stress that can eventually lead to suicide. Any oral or written statements provided to the peer support sessions are to be maintained confidential and cannot be used in court. In-service training will be required every 3 years to be completed by each police officer for the purposes of providing solutions to suicide prevention and promote officer wellness.
Aside from the new legislative addressing mental health accessibility, there have been others that also recognize the increasing crisis of suicide rate within the emergency personnel employees. The Illinois Firefighter Peer Support Group is a resource that has been able to gain 300 members since their establishment in 2014. The Illinois Firefighter Peer Support Group provides firefighters with the opportunity to meet with others that deal with some of the same issues such as depression or family conflicts.
The content of this blog is intended for informational purposes only and does constitute or establish an attorney-client relationship, nor constitute legal advice. If you wish to discuss any further aspect of the material contained herein, please contact Brent Eames at Eames Law Group, Ltd.