SALEM– Deputy Police Chief Joel Dolan and Fire Chief Lawrence Best are pleased to share that all members of the Salem Police and Fire Departments have been given challenge coins which promote suicide awareness and prevention among first responders.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported in a May 2018 bulletin that 30% of first responders are believed to develop behavioral health conditions such as depression.
The challenge coins, also called “life coins” because of their purpose to promote mental health, are firefighter themed on one side and police themed on the other, and are engraved with the phone number for Safe Call Now, a confidential, 24/7 suicide prevention hotline dedicated for first responders.
The coins were designed by Carol Castle, a Minnesota mother of a firefighter who died by suicide in 2017. Castle created the coins in an effort to promote suicide awareness among first responders, and give them a resource to seek help when they need it.
“These challenge coins are a thoughtful way to make sure this hotline is easily accessible for first responders, and this was a really kind initiative on behalf of the Salem Firefighters Relief Association,” Fire Chief Best said.
The Salem Firefighters Relief Association purchased 200 of the coins in late 2019 after EMS Director Doug Devine learned of the coins and contacted Castle, and Chief Best, Devine and other members of the Fire Department presented the coins to the Police Department on Thursday, April 23.
“I would like to thank Chief Best and his team at Salem Fire for sharing these coins with us and bringing awareness to the mental health of our officers, especially during a time of unprecedented uncertainty,” Deputy Chief Dolan said.