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‘There’s always help:’ Bismarck crisis coordinators help after their own families were affected by suicide

Published: Nov. 22, 2021 at 6:11 PM CST
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Suicide awareness is just as important of a topic for first responders as it is for teens.

At 16-years-old, Brenda Bergan’s son Brandon completed suicide.

“We had no idea that he suffered,” said Bergan.

Millions of teens across the country are suffering silently, like Brandon.

“If you don’t feel comfortable, knowing someone that can ask the question [about feeling suicidal] and connecting them to hope and help,” said Alison Traynor.

Alison founded the North Dakota Suicide Prevention Coalition after feeling unprepared as a social worker.

“I felt like education was needed across the state and partnered with many other community members because I was so under-prepared. I didn’t want anyone else to go through what I experienced,” said Traynor.

She said one suicide impacts 150 people, from the family members to first responders.

Crisis Care Chaplain Greg Carr is riding with police officers to build relationships so officers have someone to talk to.

“The stigmatism with first responders is that they don’t want to talk about these things because they don’t want to seem weak,” said Carr.

Carr said on average police officers will experience 800 traumatic situations in a 20-year career.

“Nobody should have to see those things but they do. The things that I tell them is: ‘you need to talk to someone,’” said Carr.

Brenda talked to someone. She continues to honor Brandon’s memory through her volunteer work and with Brandon’s Pumpkin Patch. Every year she adds a new pumpkin to her backyard on the anniversary of his passing as a connection to remember it’s okay to ask for help.

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