Police and firefighters would have expanded access to mental health services under a proposal by State Sen. Terry Link, D-Indian Creek, which has passed the Illinois Senate and is headed to the House for a vote.

“The men and who dedicate their lives to the protection of their neighbors do so under extremely stressful situations that can have an impact on the mental health of an individual,” Link said. “Ensuring there are services available when needed acknowledges these often tough working conditions and is vital to maintain the overall health of our brave first-responders.”

Senate Bill 730, if passed into law, would expand access to counseling services by allowing agencies to train personnel in peer counseling, and establishing a training program for law enforcement officers to recognize signs of work-related cumulative stress.

According to Link, a 2017 study by the Ruderman Family Foundation found more police officers and firefighters die due to suicide than all other line-of-duty deaths combined. The study also cites a vast under-reporting of suicides, adding concerns that the problem is larger and more complicated than experts initially anticipated.

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