The news of the last few days has brought attention to a growing concern within the fire and emergency service and an important behavioral health topic that many of us have been working on for more than a year. As we’ve learned, suicide is a very complex matter for which there are no simple answers. Fire service leaders often wonder how to approach this potential problem within their departments. Each situation is different and requires special intervention and support.
In light of recent tragedies, now is the time for the fire service to draw on our collective culture and traditions and come together in support of one another.
The IAFC, NFFF and NVFC encourage all members of the fire and emergency service to familiarize themselves with the credible and valuable tools and resources that are available to assist firefighters and their families who may be coping with depression or thoughts of suicide. Anyone who feels at risk or knows of someone who may be at risk should contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or seek emergency medical assistance.
Education: The First Step to Moving Forward
In July of 2011, the NFFF convened a two-day summit in Baltimore to learn from the nation’s leading experts on suicide about the incidence, causes and pathways to prevention. Our three organizations are working on the next steps that were identified during this gathering. The white paper from this symposium can be found on the NFFF’s Life Safety Initiatives website.
Furthermore, to better understand the complexities of this issue, behavioral health experts recommend the book Why People Die by Suicide by Dr. Thomas Joiner, of Florida State University, who assisted with the Baltimore summit.
Taking Care of Our Own
Like you, we realize the profound pain that the families and friends of these firefighters are experiencing. Out of respect for their privacy and their grief, we should refrain from rumor or speculation about what may have caused these tragedies.
As we proceed through the next couple of weeks, it is important to remember that we support each other by “Taking Care of Our Own.” Do not hesitate to reach out to one another or seek assistance from our individual organizations if you feel the need.