According to a recent national survey, first responders have significantly higher rates of suicidal thoughts than people in other professions.
The survey of more than 4,000 firefighters, conducted by the Journal of Emergency Medical Services, found about 37 percent of them had considered suicide, and 6.6 percent had attempted it.
Both numbers are ten times higher than the suicide rate in the general population.
In the Portland Fire Bureau, rank-and-file members are beginning to have honest conversations about mental health.
“Just because they’re a firefighter doesn’t mean they’re protected from all the horrible stuff that they go out and respond to,” June Vining, who heads up the department’s Employee Assistance Program and is director of the Trauma Intervention Program, said. “None of that training prepares them for cutting an 11-year-old down who hung himself.”