BEXAR COUNTY, Texas -- First responders are faced with traumatic situations on a daily basis and as such could face internal struggles like PTSD and depression.
Kara Yocum is the wife of Bexar County officer. She and her husband advocate for more mental health awareness across the board following her child's suicide three years ago.
"He came home upset and we found him in the garage 10 minutes later. He showed no signs, we had no clue that he even thought of suicide," Yocum said. "If I would've known then what I know now, I would've spoken to my son and maybe things would've been different."
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention reports suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in Texas, with September being Suicide Prevention Month.
"Awareness needs to be brought across the board to everybody. The top ones are the first responders and the vets. They're the ones that are taking their lives at record number," Yocum said.
A study by Ruderman Family Foundation reports last year 140 police officer suicides were documented in contrast to 129 line of duty deaths.
"The world places a judgement on police officers and first responders. You know, 'you're supposed to be up on par, you're supposed to be of sound mind,'" Yocum said. "Some departments will judge. If you have a mental illness, they'll put you on desk duty. Every department is different."
According to the Ruderman study, on average, police officers witness 188 "critical incidents" during their careers, sacrificing their well-being to save others.
"People do not know what cops go through on a daily basis and what they see on a daily basis," Yocum said. "I'm not a police officer, so I'm not behind my husband's eyes but he has told me some stuff on what he sees on a daily basis. I couldn't do it. There's no way."
PTSD and depression rates among first responders are found to be five times higher than civilians, the study states.
"First responders definitely need a place they can go to where they feel safe and speak to somebody. Even if it's not therapy, somebody that's been there, done that," Yocum said.
She said that raising awareness to this issue can continue to lessen the stigma around mental health. She started the Isaac Foundation for Suicide Prevention and Awareness and is hosting an event in San Marcos on Oct. 13 to help spread awareness about bullying and suicide.