A Chicago deputy chief who had recently been promoted was found dead from
a self-inflicted gunshot wound at a police facility this week. He’d been with the
force for 30 years. He is at least the ninth member of the department to die by
suicide in the past 2 years, and is another victim of the suicide epidemic among
Expecting people to repeatedly see injury, violent death and the dark side of
humanity but not have it affect them is unreasonable and naive. The number one
action experts say helps relieve traumatic stress is also the thing missing in many
fire and law enforcement settings: talking about it. Providing a coworker the space
to release the unseen pressure that’s been building might save their life.
This is also a time for individuals to re-evaluate their responsibility to their team.
Pulling a colleague out of the line of fire or out of a burning building comes naturally.
You train for it. It’s expected that you will to this – and someone will do this for you
– in order to save a life. Remember: those struggling with what they see on the job
also deserve to be pulled to safety. You don’t have to understand what they are
going through to be able to do this for them, you just need to do it.
If you or someone you know needs help, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is
1-800-273-8255. You can also call the Fire/EMS Helpline at 1-888-731-FIRE (3473).
Resources for leadership interested in helping their staff and personnel:
- Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance workshops, self-assessments, resources.
- National Fallen Firefighter Foundation Everyone Goes Home program.
- Carry the Load program for all first responders, veterans and their families.
- National Volunteer Fire Council’s Share the Load program.
- The Total Policing Wellness Project requests your stories and tips on wellness for other officers and their families on all aspects of life and career.
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