A recent study from a Boston-based disability advocacy group has determined that Massachusetts firefighters are more than twice as likely to kill themselves as civilians due to untreated depression and PTSD.
The Ruderman Family Foundation, an advocacy group for disabilities, estimates that the suicide rate for Bay State firefighters is around 20 per 100,000 people, compared to 9 per 100,000 for their civilian counterparts.
“First responders are heroes who run towards danger every day in order to save the lives of others; they are also human beings, and their work exerts a toll on their mental health,” said nonprofit head Jay Ruderman. “It is our obligation to support them in every way possible to make sure that they feel welcome and able to access life-saving mental health care. This white paper should serve as a critical call to action to all who care about our heroes in red and blue.”
According to The Boston Herald, the attitudes towards depression and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder have changed in recent years, which in turn has led to peer-involved counseling among departments and unions that can help firefighters deal with situations well after incidents have taken place.
“In the past, these issues were something you really didn’t talk about, but we want to change that so that you have a good life, on and off the job,” said Mike Jefferson, a Somerville firefighter who heads the committee on mental health. “Don’t wait until it’s too late.”