A first-of-its-kind mental health survey of police, firefighters and 911 call dispatchers in Virginia finds that they experience suicidal thoughts at a rate of more than double the general population and that nearly a quarter suffers from work-related depression.
The survey of nearly 4,900 first responders also found that nearly half couldn't stop looking for threats even in their own homes, a common symptom for those who have been exposed to trauma.
Many said they would not seek help for their problems, because they wanted to tough it out on their own, feared their bosses finding out, or felt too embarrassed to ask because of the stigma associated with mental health issues.
The survey of 26 agencies across the state by the Fairfax County police, the U.S. Marshals Service and the Fairfax Coalition of Police Local 5000 comes as the psychological toll of public safety work has begun to gain more national attention.