Denver firefighters trying to end firefighter suicide
With firefighter suicides outpacing line-of-duty deaths, peer support teams to help troubled first responders
By Kelly Werthmann
DENVER — An alarming trend among first responders is raising concerns for local fire departments in Colorado and around the country. “Some of the burden and some of the issues relative to the job itself create the tendency for firefighters to take their lives,” said Denver Fire Capt. Greg Pixley.
Last year 104 firefighters in the United States committed suicide, according to the Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance (FBHA). In jaw-dropping comparison, 87 firefighters were killed in the line of duty in 2014. Already this year 49 firefighters have lost their lives on the line and 68 have taken their own lives. Four of those firefighters committed suicide over the weekend, the FBHA. said. Even more shocking, the suicide numbers come from just 25 percent of fire departments nationwide willing to share the difficult statistic.
“There is a tremendous stigma around suicide,” Pixley said. “Often times family members do not want to admit their loved ones took their own life. We believe those numbers to be quite under reported.”
- Fire Chief News