• Suicide Prevention: Why It Should Matter to All of Us

      Beyer, Cal (2020-09)
      I worked in healthcare through high school and college — yes, even in high school! I was frequently exposed to the challenges of mental health and occasionally to suicide. From those experiences, I became determined to learn how to help people and to make a difference in the lives of others. Before I became a construction specialist, I was dedicated to public entity risk management for 10 years. My first behavioral health project in the workplace dates to a municipality I worked for in the late 1980s when I learned about employee assistance programs for first responders. I grew to understand why first responders were skeptical of this employee benefit program. And, this is one reason I have so much respect for the innovative Responder Health program! My first suicide prevention project was a few years later, when I learned to evaluate strategies to reduce suicides in lockup facilities. Initially, resistance ran high to the concepts. In the end, I helped to increase knowledge of the need for physical and mental health assessments when processing new detainees. When I moved to the construction industry in 1996, I was confronted by the need to expand my learning in critical incident response. This frequently included finding grief counselors following fatality incidents and injuries at the jobsite. Initially, there was resistance that this service was not needed and that “we’re tough” and “we’ve been through this before.” These types of interventions helped companies in the aftermath of the 9-11 terrorist attacks and the destruction of Hurricane Katrina. Over time, the new norm became incorporating psychological first aid after such critical incidents.