Suicide, and the mental illness that leads people to it, is one of the most prolific and devastating issues affecting our society today. Statistics have shown that more people suffer from depression, a primary catalyst for suicide, than coronary heart disease, cancer or HIV/AIDS.Suicide is the second leading cause of death for people in the U.S. between the ages of 10 and 34, where a person successfully takes their own life every 11.7 minutes, for an average of 123 people a day.
First responders, who can be more susceptible to certain types of mental health issues as a result of regular exposure to significant death, danger, and devastation, stand out among the statistics.Results of a 2015 survey of more than 4,000 first responders published in the Journal of Emergency Medical Services found that 6.6 percent had attempted suicide, which is more than 10 times the rate in the general population.A study commissioned by the Ruderman Foundation found that both firefighters and police officers were more likely to die by suicide than in the line of duty.
What’s more, first responders may often be hesitant to seek help due to perceived societal expectations, fear of stigmatizing themselves among other first responders, or in fear of having their ability to do their job called into question.This creates barriers particular to an already vulnerable first responder population.
Although the struggle of mental illness is often seen as internal, consideration should also be given to all the lives that can be affected around a person who is having this battle.No one is immune from this and, like too many others, my life has been affected by a loved one’s long battle with suicidality and depression.This is how/why I first became involved with the Out of the Darkness event and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention organization. I hope to raise awareness and help to support those who may be silently suffering.
This is my first time attending and I will serve as a medical crew member this year assisting during the event, however I am working towards walking the 16 mile event with other local firefighters to raise awareness next year. This will be an event and group of firefighters I hope to build on every year.
I ask that you join me in donating to this important cause and supporting those who sacrifice so much in the name of public service. Thank you for your support in a cause I believe in. Together we can save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide.