GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) Breaking the stigma and raising awareness on mental health has been an ongoing battle for the last few years and now Nebraska's first responders are joining the conversation.
Firefighters and police are at an alarming 30% higher risk for suicide than the general public. Studies show firefighters and police are more likely to take their own life than to die in the line of duty.
LB 963 was introduced by Senator Tom Brewer and it aims to help those at risk. It would require all incoming first responders to get a mental health check before starting their first day. It would also offer them workers comp for developing PTSD and help raise awareness among emergency response personnel.
Dozens of people from across the state showed up at the Capitol on Monday to support the bill and share their personal stories with Senators.
"People that actually gave testimony, they felt compelled to share their story and talk about their personal stories," Jared Stockwell with the Grand Island Professional Firefighters told Local4 News. "The others who were there to support, they were there for who was speaking."
If the bill passes, they say it will benefit not only them but also the people that they serve everyday.
"If we can do additional training, develop some baselines for firefighters and first responders and also provide them some support and ways to seek treatment," Stockwell said. "I think in the long run, communities and firefighters and first responders will be better."
Stockwell says he felt they got a good response from Senators, but that there is still a long way to go in getting this bill passed. To help, he recommends calling your own Senators and telling them how important this bill would be.