In 2017, 115 firefighters took their lives in the United States.
"Behavioral health problems can impact any one at anytime," says Scottsdale Fire Chief Tom Shannon. "It is important to know that firefighters especially often do not ask for help and that it is OK to ask someone directly if they are suicidal."
Death by suicide in the fire service is higher than the average of non-public safety personnel. However, no matter the occupation, understanding the warning signs may get help to those who need it before it's too late. According to the Firestrong Foundation, these signs can include:
- Withdrawing from friends, family and society
- Unable to sleep, or sleeping all the time
- Mood changes
Chief Shannon agrees with Firestrong about the importance to listen, refer and support.
"If you think the person might be at risk, do not leave them alone. Get immediate help through a suicide prevention support line," Shannon says. "Be a semicolon; Not a period. Let them know the story hasn't ended."