Despite #suicide rates for the general population declining during #COVID-19, #firstresponder suicides remain disproportionally high. #Mentalhealth and #suicideprevention programs have not borne sufficient fruit.
#James Donaldson notes:
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
Order your copy of James Donaldson’s latest book,
From The Verge of Suicide to a Life of Purpose and Joywww.celebratingyourgiftoflife.com
Boston, June 13, 2022 — A white paper released today by the Ruderman Family Foundation revealed that while suicides for the general population have declined during the #COVID-19 #pandemic, there has been moderate to no decrease in suicides for all types of #firstresponders.
The Ruderman White Paper Update on #MentalHealth and #Suicide of #FirstResponders follows up on the Foundation’s 2018 report, which had revealed that #policemen and #firefighters are more likely to die by #suicide than in the line of duty — a trend that still holds true today. Yet while the new #stress and #isolation brought into #firstresponder’s lives by the #pandemic has resulted in increased #mentalhealth programming and resources, #firstresponder suicides had not meaningfully decreased as of 2020 (official 2021 data is still being updated).
According to the new white paper, 116 #policeofficers committed #suicide in the U.S. in 2020, compared with 140 in 2017. While the number is lower, cases can take time to uncover, and it can take months to verify these deaths by a medical examiner or coroner — as was the case with the 2017 data.
#Suicide remains more common than death in the line of duty, but a less frequent cause of death than #COVID-19. In 2020, 61.7% of all #policeofficer deaths were due to the #coronavirus; there were 182 #COVID-19 fatalities, 116 confirmed suicides, and 113 deaths in the line of duty.
Meanwhile, the number of reported #firefighter and EMS suicides stood at 127 in 2020, slightly higher than the 126 confirmed cases in 2017. Since the start of the #pandemic, there have been at least 181 #firefighters and 78 emergency #medicalcareproviders who have died of #COVID-19-related complications. The most prevalent method of #suicide for both #male and #female #firefighters and EMS personnel was firearms.
“Our research underscores the ongoing #mentalhealthcrisis facing #firstresponders, which has become a perfect storm that combines the existing dangers of their work and the toll exerted by the #pandemic,” said Jay Ruderman, President of the Ruderman Family Foundation. “Despite their best intentions, programs aimed at promoting awareness of #firstresponder #mentalhealth and at preventing #suicide have not borne sufficient fruit so far. Exacerbating this situation, the shame and #stigma often associated with the #suicide of #firstresponders lead to secrecy and silence surrounding the event, preventing appropriate processing of suicides by colleagues of the deceased. It is incumbent upon us to redouble our efforts to end the silence and eradicate the #stigma surrounding the #mentalhealth of #firstresponders.”
The white paper goes on to analyze why an increase in first responder #mentalhealth and #suicideprevention programs have not been effective and makes suggestions for bucking this trend. Currently, no government organization requires mandated reporting of such deaths or attempts, something which would prove critical in understanding the multidimensional phenomenon of #suicide and to better understand trends, patterns, and relationships in the data.
The study suggests a myriad of additional measures such as monitoring the #mentalhealth of retired #firstresponders and assessing the #mentalhealth of newly hired personnel. This may include the use of risk assessment and preventive procedures to help reduce or eliminate the negative effects of exposure to traumatic incidents. This coupled with techniques such as brain mapping and balancing systems “could make a difference in the #mentalhealth of #firstresponders if government offices and law enforcement agencies invest in them and priorities taking these new steps to protect them,” the authors of the study assert.
This white paper study was co-authored by Hanna Shaul Bar Nissim, PhD and Caitlyn Folino, MBA of the Ruderman Family Foundation; Robert Douglas, DCC, Founder and CEO, National Police #Suicide Foundation; Jeff Dill, MA, NBCC, Founder and CEO, Firefighter #BehavioralHealthAlliance; and Olivia Johnson, DM, Founder, Blue Wall Institute.