New York City isn’t the only community dealing with an increase of first responder suicides. Nationally, suicides for both police officers and firefighters have surpassed line-of-duty deaths for the respective positions.
In Lakewood, firefighters Ryan Fairbanks and Ryan Birth decided to tackle this epidemic by creating the Fire Peer Support initiative.
“Starting something like this in our field is very difficult because there’s this mentality you have to be a strong guy with a tough mentality to deal with the things we see and do,” said Birth, who has been with the department for nine years.
“Our goal is to build resilient firefighters and provide a support network for the first responder and everyone in their lives,” said Fairbanks in a press release. “The peer(s) help to identify what is going on so they can be the bridge to connect their fellow firefighter, paramedic or dispatcher to the appropriate resources.”