State committee examines mental health issues facing first responders

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CHICAGO -- Illinois lawmakers are looking at ways to help first responders cope with the pressures of the job.

A state committee hearing Wednesday follows a rash of suicides by Chicago police officers.

Witnesses testified that many police officers, firefighters and paramedics who suffer from depression or suicidal thoughts internalize their feelings.

The head of Chicago's police union, Keven Graham, said stress can lead to suicide.

Experts say more resources for first responders are needed for counseling and other treatment.

The panel listening intently Wednesday. The scale of the problem has reached epidemic proportions as evidence by the rash of Chicago police suicides this summer. But whether it’s police or fire there are many trying to help.

Clare Keating, through the React for Ryan Foundation, is working to get mental health training in the curriculum of every fire academy in Illinois.

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