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James Donaldson on Mental Health – Study Shows Impact of First Responder Jobs on Mental Health

James Donaldson notes:

Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for mental health awareness and suicide prevention, especially pertaining to our younger generation of students and student-athletes.

Getting men to speak up and reach out for help and assistance is one of my passions. Us men need to not suffer in silence or drown our sorrows in alcohol, hang out at bars and strip joints, or get involved with drug use.

Having gone through a recent bout of depression and suicidal thoughts myself, I realize now, that I can make a huge difference in the lives of so many by sharing my story, and by sharing various resources I come across as I work in this space.  http://bit.ly/JamesMentalHealthArticle


TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) – An EMT in the Colby, Kansas area took his own life just two weeks ago.

It’s part of a bigger problem — a recent study found first responders are more likely to die by suicide than in the line of duty.

Many people don’t realize first responders carry the weight of a traumatic event on their shoulders, and sometimes it’s too much to bear. Kansas Highway Patrol Trooper Ben Gardner had that experience recently.

Gardner is known for showing his fun side on Twitter — but in a January post following a crash that killed a 19-year-old woman, he tearfully showed first responders don’t leave their work at the scene.

Mission Township Fire Chief Forrest Walter knows all about it.

“There’s certain things that trigger me to remember a scene, I had a bad car wreck it was a double fatality a female was burned pretty bad and just that smell of that scene,” Chief Walter said.

A study from the Ruderman Foundation found 103 firefighters and 140 police officers died by suicide in 2017, compared to 93 firefighter and 129 officer line-of-duty deaths.

While suicide among first responders seems to be becoming more prevalent, Chief Walter says it’s also just become more known.
“In our industry, it was something we kind of hid from the mental health of firefighters it was taboo to talk about it,” Walter explained.
Time has provided a culture shift according to Lt. Tyler Abernathy with the Mission Township Fire Dept.
“We had to put something in place for these young kids who come in and know this is what they want to do we have to help them survive this job both mentally and physically,” Abernathy said.
First responders can now find support through websites, peer-to-peer conversations, and education and intervention through the 10-33 program.
Some local first responders also have a fluffy form of stress relief, a golden doodle named Stryker.
“I mean he’s just a giant fluff ball. He runs to them and they sit down and play with him and hold him and sometimes he rough houses with the employees if that’s what they like, other times he just likes to cuddle and give loves.” Antrim said.
No matter the method – the importance of coping cannot be overlooked.
“When people keep this bottled up it becomes so festered up at times that there’s an exploding point there’s a tipping point and just what we see and what we do has to be dealt with emotionally,” Chief Walter said.
If you or someone you know needs help the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255.
For more resources on suicide prevention just click here. 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

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