Families who lost a member of their first responder’s family to suicide are gathering in Dallas this weekend to comfort each other and help save the next troubled soul.
DALLAS — First responder families are gathering in Dallas this weekend as they are part of the painful fraternity of families who have lost loved ones to suicide.
But this gathering is also about providing the emotional support you need to keep fighting in the name of your loved ones.
On Friday morning, a photo of 64 smiling faces was placed in a clear frame on a table in the lobby of the Doubletree Hotel on Valley View Lane.
Included in the photo was one of the Dallas County delegates, Homero Omar Calderon. His widow, Sharonda Calderon, was there, still wearing her wedding ring around her neck.
“This ring still represents us,” she said. “He’s still a part of me. He goes everywhere with me. That’s my strength.”
After Omar lost his life in 2018, suffering from PTSD inflicted on the phone and at a crime scene, she needed the strength she needed to move on with her life.
Each was a first responder.
“They see happy people with families. To me, that’s everything,” said CEO Karen Solomon. first helpa nonprofit dedicated to raising awareness and reducing the stigma of police and firefighter suicide. It’s important to understand that suicide affects everyone.”
“It’s the leading cause of death,” Solomon said of the latest statistics tracking first responder deaths.
So this weekend, First HELP is hosting first responder families from around the country for a two-day series of counseling, support, encouragement and awareness walks in the streets near their hotels. They also want to combat the stigma that often prevents first responders from getting the help they need.
So far this year in the US, First HELP has tracked 123 first responder suicides. In some years the number approached 300.
“I have attempted suicide three times in my life,” Solomon said. “So I know what it’s like to be out there. And I know how difficult it is. So for me it’s really just treating people who have been so long committed to the community so poorly.” I can’t believe it exists.” Are you going to pretend it doesn’t exist? ”
Family members of first responders may be denied a full honorable funeral and may be denied full survivor benefits if suicide is the cause of death.
ShaRonda Calderon, now a board member of First HELP, hopes to make a big impact with her first speech after her husband’s death.
“This policeman saw me when I was walking. And he said he would get help I didn’t know I needed. She came for one.”
First HELP stands for Honor, Educate, Lead, Prevent. In the hotel lobby on Friday morning, Sharonda was doing just that, greeting all the families in this same painful fraternity.
“I’m still proud of him,” she said. If I had, I definitely know he’s still here.”
Here’s to helping save your next smile from the burden they might be trying to hide too.
you can learn more about Click here for Friday and Saturday events.
https://www.wfaa.com/article/news/local/fighting-to-reduce-plague-stigma-of-first-responder-suicides/287-32a34f79-0dd0-42ea-8c83-d5eb596bc309 Families gather to draw attention to first responder suicide