Peace of Mind: Depression and Suicide rates among first responders are skyrocketing

Published: Jun. 6, 2018 at 4:52 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 7, 2018 at 3:44 AM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

TRI-STATE (WFIE) - There's help available if you need it. That's the message well known among first responders.

Still, according to recent data, suicide rates among first responders like paramedics and firefighters are high.

In fact, a new report says, people who respond to emergencies are more likely to die from suicide than in the line of duty.

Now more help is on the way to ensure peace of mind for the people who run towards danger when we run away from it.

When you dial 9-1-1, they're the ones who respond.

Dispatchers, Firefighters, police, EMT'S and paramedics are on the front lines of emergency situations every day, and it takes a toll.

"If you work in the first responding aspect, you're a police officer, firefighter, EMS worker, your suicide rate is ten times higher than the general population. That is astronomical." said AMR's Clinical Manager, Lee Turpen.

Turpen says 85% of EMS workers across the country have shown critical signs of stress and depression.

A recent study found first responders are more likely to die by suicide than in the line of duty. Last year, there were at least 103 firefighter suicides and 140 police officer suicides.

The Tri-State knows how real this tragedy can be. In just the last month, two Evansville first responders died by suicide.

"It's not so much the big stuff all the time, but it's the accumulation over years of service and just kinda blocking that out. Then it kinda just builds up and it comes to that, unfortunately." said Firefighter/Paramedic, Zerrick Wells.

For years, resources have been available to first responders to let them know how the job affects their mental health and how and when to get help.

Now, new guidelines for those resources are on the way. It's part of House Bill 1430.

"It would be mandated training. It'll be initial requirement for the EMS side in Indiana and re-certification at least one time," said EMS District Manager, Mikel Fort.

The hope is to have these new guidelines up and running by September.

"Any type of attention we can pull to this, whether that's the attention of the public to the fact to emergency responders, paramedics, fire and EMS deal with things that are horrific in nature or part of their makeup or causing a responder to take a look at themselves and say 'Maybe I need to take better mental healthcare of myself," said Turpen.

Copyright 2018 WFIE. All rights reserved.