Denver Firefighters Talk about Suicide Prevention

 Suicide prevention is usually not mentioned in an employee handbook or in regular workplace meetings, reports

However, the Denver Fire Department has made it a priority. “It’s OK to talk about these things,” Denver Fire Chief Eric Tade said. “There is no need to internalize them.”

Chief Tade has worked at Denver Fire for more than 20 years. He can recall several suicides within the department.

However, it was the loss of one department veteran in February 2013 which prompted change.

Chief Tade refers to Captain Steve Magana as the “firefighter’s firefighter” who embraced his job wholeheartedly over his 30 years with the department.

Lt. Juan Vigil spent 15 years working alongside Captain Magana at Station 19 in Denver’s Hilltop neighborhood.

“I would never have thought that would happen to him,” Lt. Vigil said.

Vigil and Magana became good friends and spent time outside of work hunting and fishing together.”

“As a team here, it was tough,” Lt. Vigil said. “Probably the hardest thing we’ve had to deal with inside the firehouse … For sure for me.”

Captain Magana’s death rattled the entire department, and the call for change started with a meeting with the Carson J. Spencer Foundation.

Spencer-Thomas founded the suicide awareness and prevention foundation in 2005 after the death of her brother, Carson.

“They kind of made a commitment to one another that they weren’t going to stop until they got some tools, some resources, some answers,” Sally Spencer-Thomas said.

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