Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for #mentalhealthawarenessandsuicideprevention, 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 #suicidalthoughts 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
BOSTON — A white paper commissioned by the Ruderman Family Foundation of Boston has revealed that #firstresponders (#policemen and #firefighters) are more likely to die by #suicide than in the line of duty. In 2017, there were at least 103 #firefighter #suicides and 140 #policeofficer #suicides. In contrast, 93 firefighters and 129 police officers died in the line of duty. #Suicide is a result of #mentalillness, including #depression and #PTSD, which stems from constant exposure to death and destruction.
The white paper study, the Ruderman White Paper on #MentalHealthandSuicideofFirstResponders, examines a number of factors contributing to #mentalhealthissues among first responders and what leads to their elevated rate of #suicide. One study included in the white paper found that on average, #policeofficers witness 188 “critical incidents” during their careers. This exposure to trauma can lead to several forms of #mentalillness. For example, #PTSD and #depression rates among #firefighters and #policeofficers have been found to be as much as 5 times higher than the rates within the civilian population, which causes these first responders to commit #suicide at a considerably higher rate (firefighters: 18/100,000; police officers: 17/100,000; general population 13/100,000). Even when #suicide does not occur, untreated #mentalillness can lead to poor physical health and impaired decision-making.
In addition, the Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance (FBHA) estimates that approximately 40 percent of #firefighter #suicides are reported. If these estimates are accurate, the actual number of 2017 #suicides would be approximately equal to 257, which is more than twice the number of #firefighters who died in the line of duty.
“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 #mentalhealth,” said Jay Ruderman, President of the Ruderman Family Foundation. “It is our obligation to support them in every way possible – to make sure that they feel welcome and able to access life-saving #mentalhealth care. This white paper should serve as a critical call to action to all who care about our heroes in red and blue.”
The white paper also goes on to lay out several barriers that prevent first responders from accessing necessary #mentalhealth services to help them cope with trauma. Experts describe the shame and #stigma surrounding #mentalhealth within professions that prioritize bravery and toughness, and the public remains largely unaware of these issues, since the vast majority of first responder #suicides are not covered by the mainstream media. Additionally, of the 18,000 law enforcement agencies across the United States, approximately 3-5 percent have #suicideprevention training programs.
“We need to end the silence that surrounds the issue of first responder #mentalhealth. We should celebrate the lives of those lost to #suicide — at national monuments such as the National Law Enforcement Memorial, in the media, and within #police and #fire #departments around the country,” Ruderman added.
“Also, departments should encourage or require #firstresponders to access #mentalhealthservices annually. This will enable our heroes to identify issues early, and get the help that they need. It will save lives.”
To view the Ruderman White Paper on #MentalHealth and #Suicide of #FirstResponders in full, please visit: https://issuu.com/rudermanfoundation/docs/first_responder_white_paper_final_ac270d530f8bfb