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Coping with Suicide

First responders have a tough job.  They put their lives on the line to save others and have to respond quickly to dangerous situations daily.

Suicide calls and the aftermath are some of the toughest incidents for first responders.  Each year, more than 36,000 Americans take their own lives and about 465,000 people receive medical care for self- inflicted injuries. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in America.

On suicide calls first responders have no control and in the matter of seconds can go from rescuers to grievers.

Fire fighters have seen some unimaginable things and some of those things can stay with them for a long time.  Suicide is an issue that we don’t talk about much, but can have a devastating impact on the fire service. Oftentimes fire fighters process what they see internally and have a tendency to not reach out to others when they feel emotionally anxious or scared.

Fire fighters are tough, but they are human too. If they don’t take the time to fully reflect and discuss negative incidents the consequences can be detrimental.

Suicide prevention will be discussed at this year’s IAFF John P. Redmond Symposium on the Occupational Health and Hazards of the Fire Service in conjunction with the Dominick F. Barbera Emergency Medical Services Conference. You can sign up for the conference: http://www.iaff.org/Events/2013Redmond/Workshops.asp

Fire fighters who attend this workshop will learn about the latest coping and support system mechanisms. In addition, fire fighters will know how to protect our own by implementing new programs to address the act of suicide.

The IAFF wants its members to know that no fire fighter stands alone. And if they are feeling tense, anxious or scared that there are plenty of resources available for them.

National (US) Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Canadian Suicide and Crisis Hotlines

Suicide Prevention Resource Center (US)

Centre for Suicide Prevention (Canada)

The National Council For Suicide Prevention

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration


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