Suicide deaths among firefighters and law enforcement officers (LEOs) outpaced line-of-duty deaths in 2017, and researchers believe the numbers are actually much higher due to underreporting.
The number one action experts say will help the mental health crisis among first responders is to begin talking about it, starting within the department. It is much easier to talk about witnessing traumatic events with someone who has been there and seen what you have seen. Allowing a coworker to release the unseen pressure valve that has been building might save their life.
Expecting first responders to repeatedly see injury, violent death and the dark side of humanity but not have it affect them is unreasonable and naive. It’s ironic that the “suck it up” attitude and push to be “strong enough” for the job might actually be perpetuating first responder suicides, as it discourages them from seeking help.