Brooklyn Park First Responders Receive Coins to Help with Crises
It’s not talked about often, but First Responder suicide is a growing problem. The director of the Minnesota Wrestling Hall of Fame, Robbinsdale’s Carol Castle, knows that first hand. When her firefighter son took his own life, she knew she had a mission.
“When I found out that you guys had double or triple the suicide rate of civilians,” Carol said to a group of police and firefighters, “I figured I gotta do something.”
And she did. She formed a new branch of the Hall of Fame called Wrestling for Life, dedicated to helping prevent first responder suicide. The division distributes so-called “Life Coins” throughout the US and Canada. The tokens, based on challenge coins, are to be carried by first responders as a reminder that help is available if they need it. A number to a hand-picked crisis hotline is embossed right on the coin.
That number connects first responders to a unique crisis line. It’s staffed by other first responders – something Carol says is important because they’re guaranteed to understand what callers are dealing with. And it’s completely anonymous and untraceable, which means callers don’t have to worry about potential career implications of their managers finding out they sought help.
Carol’s group is actively distributing coins to departments around the country – she just returned from a trip to Maine. And Friday, she was close to home in Brooklyn Park giving out just over 200 coins to police and firefighters. Recipients say the coins are an important part of their gear because of the help they represent.
“It’s a very rewarding career,” says Deputy Chief Jovan Palmieri of the Brooklyn Park Fire Department. “It’s also very challenging in the things that we do see. We respond to people’s worst days. We do that on a daily basis.”
If you’d like a coin, or know a first responder who could use one, you can get one here, or arrange for an entire department to get them.