The city’s firefighters union is pushing for more emphasis on mental health after losing an officer to suicide.
“One of our brothers passed away of this disease,” said Shawn Weeks, president of Local 1891, the union that represents Boynton’s paramedics and firefighters. “Nobody thought this was gonna happen.”
Noting Boynton’s fallen officer will “guide us into changing this profession,” Weeks rolled out an early-stage proposal calling for a joint venture with the city to make a doctor available to help when firefighters experience trauma or suffer symptoms of mental illness. The union would cover treatment and travel costs.
Suicide in 2017 claimed the lives of at least 103 firefighters, according to a white paper commissioned by the Ruderman Family Foundation. The Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance estimates that number was underreported and actually exceeded 250.