In November 2017, Fire Captain Ryan J. Mitchell lost his life to suicide. During this year, Captain Mitchell was 1 of at least 243 Firefighters and Police Officers in the United States who died by suicide according to the Ruderman White Paper on Mental Health and Suicide of First Responders. First Responders are at a greater risk for experiencing symptoms of posttraumatic stress, depression, substance use disorders and suicidal ideation. Many First Responders are reluctant to seek behavioral health services due to the stigma and shame associated with mental illness.
The Fire Captain Ryan J. Mitchell’s First Responders Behavioral Health Support Program was created by San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher in September 2019 and launched on November 10, 2020 to provide First Responders in San Diego County a free and confidential space to seek behavioral health services 24/7 365 days a year.
This program aims to increase awareness about local mental health resources and decrease the stigma and barriers associated with First Responders seeking behavioral health support services.