AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Northwest Texas Healthcare System Behavioral Health hosted the fourth annual flag-raising ceremony, in support of National Law Enforcement Suicide Awareness Day.

According to BLUE H.E.L.P, a non-profit organization that began collecting data on law enforcement suicides in 2016 the organization reported that in 2021 there were 138 law enforcement suicides and 182 total first responder deaths by suicide.

The first responders included in the data are law enforcement, corrections, EMS and firefighters.

The flag-raising ceremony is meant to honor those who have lost their lives to suicide and bring awareness and support to first responders who need it.

“It was an honor for us to be able to hold this and to be a part of this with all law enforcement, first responders and that was just a great event to be a part of, said Trevor Spradling, CEO of NWTHS Behavioral Health. “Being a first responder in law enforcement, it’s not always an easy job, but there’s always somebody here for them if it becomes too much.”

According to Spradling, there is a major need for help services in Amarillo and surrounding counties and they are doing everything they can to provide as many resources as possible to those in need.

Knowing the signs of potential suicide is important. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, those signs include:

  • Talking about:
    • Wanting to die
    • Being a burden to others
    • Hopelessness, guilt or shame
  • Change in behavior:
    • Isolating from friends and family
    • Extreme mood swings
    • Increasing use of drugs and alcohol
    • Taking Dangerous risk
  • Feeling:
    • Extreme sadness, rage and anxiety
    • Unbearable emotional and physical pain
    • Having no reason to live and hopelessness

The National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline number is 988 which anyone needing help can call or text. Those in need can also chat online at 988lifeline.org or text “HELLO” to 741741.