Firefighter Suicide Prevention
Category: Fire, EMS
Gordon Graham here with Today’s Tip from Lexipol. And Today’s Tip deals with firefighter and EMS mental health.
Firefighters and EMS are trained to deal with, and handle everyone else’s problems. But are you trained to deal with the effects that everyone else’s problems may have on you?
You know we are always looking for suggestions for these Today’s Tips from Lexipol. Last year, Deputy Chief Adam Munro of the Macomb Township Fire Department in Michigan had this great suggestion for a Today’s Tip.
In all of public safety, whether law enforcement, custody or fire service, there seems to be a reluctance to discuss mental health and the potential for suicide among public safety employees. Firefighters and EMS are trained to deal with, and handle everyone else’s problems. But are you trained to deal with the effects that everyone else’s problems may have on you? As a firefighter and EMS you will be one of the first on-scene at tragedies that most people can’t even comprehend. Babies killed or maimed in traffic collisions; abused elders; drug overdoses of parents with their kids present. I could go on and on but you get the picture. And my firefighter friends are expected to just go back to the station after witnessing one of these events and then respond and professionally handle the next call when it comes in. Oh, yeah, and then throw in 24, 48 or 72 hour shifts or longer being away from home and we find firefighters prone to relationship problems at home.
OK, Gordy, great. We already know that stress, pressure and even the culture of the fire service can lead to suicidal thoughts and behavior; but what can I do about it? We’ve talked about it before. And this applies to everyone in public safety, not just firefighters—take care of yourself. Take care of the important things—Enjoy your family time and keep your priorities straight; take up an outside hobby; eat healthy and exercise regularly. And if you do start feeling yourself sinking—talk to someone; your Clergyman, your spouse, a peer counselor or someone. There is no shame in getting help.
If you are going to continue doing the wonderful job that you’re doing now—helping others—remember you must first help yourself.
And that is Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Gordon Graham signing off.