(KTVI) Depression and PTSD are up to five times more common in police, fire, and EMS workers than for the general population.

It’s a grim reality that underscores the importance of providing support for first responders and their families.

A former St. Louis Metropolitan Police Sargeant, Rich Banahan has nearly fifty years of experience in law enforcement. He now works as a law enforcement trainer with Behavioral Health Response, educating departments across the St. Louis area in in other parts of Missouri about steps to promote mental health and wellness. One of his programs, “Disarming Suicide,” addresses intervention and prevention strategies.

Banahan has trained nearly 350 members of the St. Louis Fire Department.

St. Louis Fire Department Chief Dennis Jenkerson said departments have noticed the trends of suicide and mental illness increase over the past 15 to 20 years.

“The hours alone that are spent working on the fire department side, that’s an issue. The long hours away from home, away from their families. Some of the things that every firefighter, EMS member see on a daily basis. And also the stressors at home, the stressors of society,” Jenkerson said.

The STL Fire Department has several resources in place to support the mental health and wellbeing of its members.

Jenkerson and Banahan spoke with Fox 2’s Jasmine Huda about suicide awareness and prevention, peer support, post-traumatic stress debriefings, and other programs focused on first responder safety.