Firies climb 28 floors for mental health

·1-min read

Hundreds of firefighters have laboured up 28 flights of stairs wearing 25 kilograms of gear and breathing apparatus, in the name of mental health.

About 600 emergency crew scaled the steps at Melbourne's Crown Metropol Hotel on Saturday to raise more than $500,000 for Lifeline, Fortem Australia, and the 000 Foundation.

In 2020, 3139 people took their own lives in Australia, with more than 65,000 attempting to take their own lives each year.

Suicide rates in defence, emergency, and protective services are elevated compared with other sectors, and people in the occupations are also more likely to sustain post traumatic stress injuries.

Saturday's stair climb was the first in-person since 2019, however virtual participants this year also undertook a broader challenge to climb at least 3139 steps in a month.

The climb was a great opportunity for emergency service personnel to come together and raise money for a worthy cause, Country Fire Authority chief officer Jason Heffernan said.

"This is a fantastic physical event that our CFA volunteers have been enthusiastically participating in for nine years running now," he said.

"We're coming out of an incredibly tough few years which no doubt have taken their toll on people's mental health in many ways, so it's great to support these issues by finally coming together for some friendly competition and exercise."

The climb aims to break down stigma around mental health, and has raised more than $3 million for charity since 2014.

For every person who takes their own life, up to 135 people are affected including family, friends, colleagues and first responders.

The stair climb coincided with World Suicide Prevention Day.

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