First responders are more likely to die from suicide than in the line of duty.
The have served for all of us, now it's time for us to serve them!
A recent survey found that 6.6% of first responders had attempted suicide at least once, this is 10 times the rate of the general population!
Suicides among first responders is often driven by the emotional strain they endure daily while in a culture that discourages showing weakness. Our executive director, Todd Woodfill, was a first responder in multiple municipalities for over 10 years and talks with first responders around the country. Todd tells them when he speaks, "If you don't think you've changed, you're absolutely wrong."
First responders see the worst of society daily from violence, accidents, child abuse, overdose, sexual assaults, and more. All while being expected to manage their feelings, internalize and move on to the next incident. "Each first responder processes his or her experiences differently," says Todd, "Some of the most resilient are able to frame their perspective of a bad call, telling themselves they were there because they had the skills, training, and expertise that may have helped someone. They are able to learn from these experiences without tormenting themselves with questions about what they could have or should have done differently."
Defeat Suicide Foundation works to help and support our first responders. The journal of Emergency Medical Services found that first responders who felt supported and encouraged at work were less likely to contemplate suicide. Those who didn't feel supported responded with things like, "I asked for help and ended up losing my 22-year career," "(I) asked for help and was laughed at," and "I tried to get help but was then made fun of and became ostracized from the group."
Defeat Suicide Foundation is working by not only speaking to first responders to connect and let them know it's OK to ask for help, but also pursuing legislative changes that can physically help our heroes. Volunteer firefighters, which compose 70% of firefighters in the United States, are typically covered only by workers' compensation insurance, which doesn't treat mental health issues as work-related injuries. We are working to change this in all states.
First Responders are more likely to die by suicide than in the line of duty!
Suicides left more officers and firefighters dead last year than all line-of-duty deaths combined. (Keep in mind that approximately only 40% of first responders suicides are reported!) Yet, less than 5% of departments have suicide-prevention programs.