IDAHO FALLS — Eastern Idaho has seen its fair share of tragedy over the last year and several organizations are jumping on board to combat the impacts on mental health.
The First Responder/Community Leader Trauma-Focused Mental Health, Wellness, and Suicide Prevention Training is happening May 24-28. The classes targeted for veterans and first responders will also have some offerings for those in the community interested in attending.
“This is a great opportunity for us to bring collaborative training here in eastern Idaho,” Bonneville County Sheriff Sam Hulse says. “All of our systems touch when dealing with problems in the community and when we’re holding trainings like this, this is about becoming a more resilient community.”
With the training, organizers hope to save lives by increasing the number of people in the community with suicide prevention training. The program also wants to give more perspective on how to recognize and help those struggling with mental health and Post Traumatic Stress Injuries through peer support and other skills.
“Problems come, difficulties are going to arise and we have to work through those,” says Hulse. “Obviously, as we grow and our area becomes more populated, problems come with that. We have first responders that respond to very difficult situations in the community and we have to produce resiliency in our responders.”
Less than two weeks ago, first responders arrived to a shooting at Rigby Middle School that left three wounded. The high-intensity situation put not only officers but many members of the community through a traumatic event. Officials say the impact of the shooting is not fully known yet and may be long-lasting.
“We can’t do this alone,” Jefferson County Sheriff Steve Anderson says. “To have an incident like that, it’s amazing to see all of the support that came to our community … but what’s ongoing now is the healing with our community. That’s not just for our community that’s for our first responders and this training is very important because we’ve got to get out of the stigma that they don’t have issues when they go to these tragic events.”
During the training, Jared Nesary, a retired police officer and Marine veteran, will share his story of trauma, loss and grief throughout his personal and professional life. He says one specific call in 2017 left him a broken man in a dark place with no more desire to live.
“However, I did the most courageous thing I have ever done,” Nesary says. “I asked for help.”
Nesary got in touch with Deer Hollow, a residential recovery and treatment center that provides help to those with PTSD. Part of the healing process for him has come from sharing his personal story of hope and smashing the stigma of PTSD.
“No matter how dark the darkness gets or how far you’ve fallen, you’re never alone in this battle,” says Nesary. “There is professional help out there, and PTSD and PTSI does not have to be a death sentence.”
Most of the training next week is either free or at half-price, thanks to a grant from the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.
“Somebody out there today is suffering and they believe they are alone,” Hulse says. “If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide, if you feel like you don’t matter, there are resources available in the community today that we can connect you with.”
The Sheriff’s Office along with Courageous Survival, Idaho American Legion, Code 3 to 1 Retired Law Enforcement Association, NAMI Idaho, Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline, Idaho Department of Health & Welfare, Bonneville County Center for Hope & Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs are partnering to host the event.