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Utah Firefighter Hopes To Spread Awareness About Mental Health In First Responders

BOUNTIFUL, Utah — The Centers for Disease Control calls suicide a significant health problem, and first responders are at a higher risk.

One Utah firefighter took his experience as a first responder to the airwaves in an effort to raise awareness about the problem.

You wouldn’t know it when he’s on a scene with South Davis Metro Fire, but Mike Shafer is an aspiring rapper, and he recently released the first track on his newest album — a song about suicide.

It’s a message that’s personal for Mike.

“It’s honestly something that hits home to me,” he said.

Mike has been on the front lines for nearly a decade, there’s no doubt the South Davis firefighter has positively impacted hundreds of lives. Now he hopes to broaden that reach, through song about a tough topic — suicide.

“For me, spreading the awareness of, ‘You’re not alone. You’re not the only one that’s struggling, and we’re here for you,” said Mike.

“He came to me with this song and I was just blown away,” said Mike’s wife, Aubrey Shafer, who is a photojournalist at KSL TV.

“Within the song, there’s a story,” she said.

A story that’s all too familiar for first responders.

“We all have, we all have those scenes that I don’t think I’ll ever forget. We’ll have those memories, and some of them, some of the scenes from the video were from my own personal struggle of being bothered me, and will probably never leave me.”

Mike and Aubrey started putting the music to video.

“We pulled these things from things my husband has been on, scenes that have really impacted him,” said Aubrey.

The journey has been rewarding.

Mike has looked to musicians like Eminem and Outkast for inspiration, and now hopes others will look to him for something else — hope.

“It’s kind of been a little mind-blowing for me,” said Mike. “I’ve had people reach out to me and just tell me, ‘That’s how I feel, and I appreciate you doing it. It’s giving me confidence to reach out.'”

“If this video can help just one or two people make a phone call or reach out to a friend, then it’s all worth it,” said Aubrey.

The video can be found on Youtube.

The Shafers said a portion of the money made from the song will go to suicide prevention.

If you like what you heard and want more, Mike’s next single from the album, “The Hunter’s Son,” drops on Wednesday.


SUICIDE PREVENTION RESOURCES

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts or exhibiting warning signs, call the Utah State Crisis Line: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Additional Crisis Hotlines:

National Suicide Prevention Crisis Text Line: Text “HOME” to 741-741

Trevor Project Hotline for LGBTQ teens: 1-866-488-7386

Online resources:

In an emergency: 

  • Call 911
  • Go to the emergency room
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