I want to discuss a few numbers with you.
No, they aren't going to make you happy. They aren't winning lottery numbers, nor salaries. In fact, there is a deep sadness in me as I write this. I want to talk about Line of Duty Death (herein referred to as LODD) statistics. I want to discuss the United States Fire Administration LODD and the 74 firefighters that have died in the Line of Duty this year (current as of the time of this writing). 74 Men and Women who made the ultimate sacrifice for their profession. 74 Men and Women who won't be going home to their families.
While this number fills me with deep sadness, I can't help but want to talk to you about another number that infuriates me. That number is currently 80.
At this point some of you are asking, "Hey, what's Dave got against 80?" Nothing, I don't dislike the number itself, a good friend's badge number is 80, an 80 is a pretty decent score on more standard graded tests and it's a nice even number.
So what does it represent and why am I so mad/borderline furious about 80?
According to the Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance 80 is the number of Firefighters that have committed suicide this year alone. Let's let that sink in for a moment.
80 FIREFIGHTERS HAVE COMMITTED SUICIDE THIS YEAR ALONE!
Why aren't we discussing this number?
Were you aware of it?
Were you aware that we have lost more of our brothers and sisters to their own hand, than to our profession?
Why are we afraid to talk about this?
Is it our culture?
Is it the stigma associate with Mental Illness?
Do we fear what others might think of us?
Is it because we aren't sure what to do if someone asks for help?
There are multiple campaigns out there to address mental health issues. There are some specific to Emergency services. Responder mental health needs to be a topic that gets addressed. We are expected to solve the world's problems, yet when we have our own problems, we are hesitant to address them.
With your help, we can bring mental health awareness for emergency services to light.
With your help, we can reduce the number of suicides affecting our brothers and sisters.
With your help, we can educate others on the behavioral health signs and symptoms
With your help, we can get our brothers and sisters the help that they need
With your help, we can bring mental health out of the darkness and into the light
With your help, WE CAN WIN!
Are you willing to help?
This isn't a sales pitch, there is no financial commitment, no "for XYZ cents a day you too can sponsor ABC" like you see on TV.
I am asking you to make a commitment to be your brother's keeper. To learn more about the epidemic that we are facing and the resources available, and be willing to stand up and connect those in need with the resources that we have at our disposal.
Comment below and let's start the discussion about Emergency Services Suicides.