EAST HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) - Dozens of runners met in East Hartford Sunday to honor the first responders who took their own life.

It's all part of the seventh annual Believe 208 5K run for the bravest and finest.

Lots of excitement as more than 200 runners completed the annual 5K, a run where many honored the life of loved ones no longer with them.

"When Paul passed away, suicide was a taboo subject and there wasn't many resources available. That also became our mission when Paul wrote a letter and said, 'Help others that are like me'," Trish Buchanan, founder of Believe 208, tells us.

Officer Paul Buchanan committed suicide in 2013. His wife, Trish, then created and directs Believe 208, an organization that focuses on mental health.

Her son, Benjamin, says he misses his dad and urges people to get the help as soon as possible.

"I think we, as a country, realized through COVID that mental health is pretty important, so I think now it's becoming more and more accepted to say, 'I'm not okay', so to have a turnout like this for a cause like mental health is incredible," Benjamin Buchanan said.

Believe 208 collaborates with medical staff, like the Honor wellness Center, which helps first responders like fire, police, and dispatch.

"On a daily basis, they start their adrenaline storage up here, just because that's keeping their head in the game and from there, that just goes up as calls come in. Their days are up and down, call after call," Phyllis Digioia, director of the Honor Wellness Center, stated.

Phyllis says having support from your peers and not considering yourself weak when getting help is essential, so try not to accumulate stress and make time for self care.

"This is a very hard time to be a cop and I just want people to know that we are still appreciative of our police officers. We still care. It's all about bringing us all together, having that positivity, and let's promote unity," Jared Buchanan added.

A type of unity and support that's needed, which can help save a life.

If you want to learn how to get help, head here.


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