USA: Last year, 69 firefighters in the U.S. died in the line of duty, the National Fire Protection Association reports. But far more — 139 – took their own lives.
Read more at East County Magazine
So far this year, 86 firefighters have been lost through suicide—including Cal Fire Captain Ryan Mitchell, who killed himself at the Pine Valley Bridge in San Diego’s East County earlier this month.
Jeff Dill, CEO and founder of the Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance (www.ffbha.org) , is determined to save firefighters’ lives through special workshops designed by a firefighter, for a firefighter.
The workshops are offered to fire departments across the nation. They focus on behavioral health awareness, suicide prevention, and making resources available to help firefighters and their families.
“Five years ago, no one was taking down these names and numbers,” says Dill, a retired battalion chief who got his masters degree in counseling in Illinois and has since done research to compile data on firefighter suicides, then went on to create programs to help prevent such tragedies.
Since 1880, when the earliest known suicide occurred (a fire chief in Auburn, New York),at least 1,078 firefighters have killed themselves. Sixty of those deaths were in California, the fifth highest rate in the nation after Illinois, Texas, Pennsylvania and New York, the FFBHA reports.