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First responder event addresses suicide prevention

Suicide prevention speaker David Bartley is in the midst of a whirlwind tour throughout the Copper Country. After addressing an audience on Monday at the Rozsa Center, he is the keynote speaker at A Night Out For First Responders being hosted by the Keweenaw County Sheriff Department. The event is scheduled for Tuesday night at 6:30 at the courthouse in Eagle River.

Bartley suffered from depression as a young man and a deputy helped him tackle his mental illness.

Me standing on a dark spot on a 735-foot tall bridge, the Forestville Bridge, he looks at me, “What’s it like on your worst days?” And you think, “Why would you ask that question?” Thank God he did.

Bartley says he is trying to share with first responders across the country some things that will make them more effective when called out to a mental health incident, but more importantly, he is thanking them for what they do in the face of great difficulty.

He says connection is the most important thing to help against depression. Bartley subscribes to the belief that loneliness is the main driver of addiction and mental illness. In a lot of cases, that bond can be formed by the smallest of gestures. Finding how to create that bridge on scene is something that unites police, fire, EMTs and other first responders together.

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