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Media release: Royal Commission findings show need for first responder support

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Fortem Australia has reiterated the importance of evidence-based mental fitness and wellbeing support for the first responder community, in the wake of the release of the interim report from the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide. 

As with the Defence sector, suicide prevention and a comprehensive suicide framework needs to be one of the ultimate objectives of any mental health and wellbeing strategy for first responder agencies. 

Between July 2001 and December 2016, death by suicide was attributed to 197 police officers, paramedics, and firefighters in Australia, highlighting the need for serious action to prevent suicide¹ 

Employees and volunteers in the first responder sector report having suicidal thoughts over two times more than adults in the general population and are more than three times more likely to have a suicide plan². 

First responders with higher levels of social support reported lower levels of suicidal thoughts and behaviours, even if they had experienced traumatic events that deeply affected them in their work or were likely to have PTSD². This illustrates the impact of organisations like Fortem Australia. 

“Fortem Australia is Australia’s only national not-for-profit organisation providing free evidence-based mental fitness and wellbeing support to first responders and their families,” said John Bale, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Fortem Australia.   

“Since our foundation in 2019, Fortem has supported over 7,000 first responders and their families through science-backed social connection activities, clinical services, and transition programs.” 

Media contact: Simon Anderson, M – 0448 601 391 E –media@dev.fortemaustralia.org.au

¹ National Coronial Information System, 2019 
² Beyond Blue, 2018 

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