As awareness grows about firefighter and first responder suicide numbers and the importance of behavioral health, a number of groups around the country, such as the Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance (FBHA), are stepping forward to address the issue. A news report recently talked to one Denver (CO) firefighter who is striving to make a difference.
“Some of the burden and some of the issues relative to the job itself create the tendency for firefighters to take their lives,” Denver Fire Captain Greg Pixley told the local CBS News.
Pixley addressed the stigma about suicide, and the news report discussed the difficulties some responders–used to being looked at as rescuers–have in reaching out for help themselves. The report said Pixley and other Colorado fire service leaders are trying to change this mentality with peer support groups, teams made up of firefighters, department staff, counselors, and psychologists who can offer help.
The report gave an example of the efficacy of peer support groups when, after the Aurora 2012 mass shooting at a movie theater, firefighters from New York who experienced the tragedy of 9/11 came to the metro area to provide local first responders with mental health needs.
Most departments do not have a peer support program due to financial constraints or support from administration, but Pixley told reporters that this needs to change.
More FBHA at http://www.ffbha.org/
- Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance: It Is OK To Ask For Help
- Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance Holds First Annual Retreat
- Experts: Stress has Heavy Impact on Firefighters
- IL Non-Profit FBHA Shines Spotlight on Firefighter Suicide Prevention
- A Firefighter’s Silent Killer: Suicide
- New Video Provides Guidance Firefighters in Coping with Suicide