SUICIDE: The Mental Cost of Being a Firefighter

by Peggy Sweeney

“Training them to deal with trauma, stress, and grief is no less important than training them to be safe on the fire ground.”

Suicide is a major, preventable public health problem. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in 2010 it was the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for 38,364 deaths.  One of the major risk factors for suicide is depression, or a substance-abuse disorder — often in combination with other mental disorders. More than 90 percent of people who die by suicide have these risk factors. (Moscicki, 2001) Continue reading

Slow Death of a Firefighter

by Timothy O. Casey
Firefighter/Paramedic (deceased)

As a firefighter/paramedic for more than 30 years, I can safely say I have pretty much seen it all. I have seen death in every incarnation, and life as well. We on the front lines are not invited politely to join in the fray of life; no, we are thrust into chaos on a daily basis, it’s our job.

It is, to say the least, an unusual profession. No two days are alike, and no two emergencies are alike. The environment is rarely predictable and the events and people even more unpredictable. Yet we go.

Who takes care of us? Our families? They try, I know mine did. But the average or normal person cannot share our experience, they can’t imagine what we do or see.

I know that many days I felt like a human garbage collector, picking up the waste of society. People, although fascinated with the gruesome, macabre, or terrifying, only see it from a distance. We hold it in our hands and get it on the soles of our boots. Continue reading