More Officers and Firefighters Died of Suicide than Line-of-Duty Deaths in 2017
April 27, 2018
Findings from a recent study suggest that police officers and firefighters are more likely to die by suicide than in the line of duty. Sponsored by the Ruderman Family Foundation, the study examined 2017 data on mental health issues among first responders around the country. It found that 103 firefighters and 140 police officers died by suicide, while 93 firefighters and 129 officers died in the line of duty last year. According to the authors, the number of suicides is likely underreported and inadequately addressed within departments. “There is not enough conversation about mental health within police and fire departments,” the authors wrote. “Silence can be deadly, because it is interpreted as a lack of acceptance and thus morphs into a barrier that prevents first responders from accessing potentially life-saving mental health services.” They recommended that departments implement measures such as peer support programs, mental health check-ups, time off following stressful events, and training to help family members identify the warning signs of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
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