The Ruderman Family Foundation found that while suicide has been an issue for years, very little has been done to address it even though first responders have PTSD and depression at a level five times that of civilians.
Suicides left more police officers and firefighters dead last year than all line-of-duty deaths combined — a jarring statistic that continues to plague first responders but gets little attention, reports USA Today. A new study by the Ruderman Family Foundation, a philanthropic organization that works for the rights of people with disabilities, looked at depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and other issues affecting first responders and the rates of suicide in departments nationwide. The group found that while suicide has been an issue for years, very little has been done to address it even though first responders have PTSD and depression at a level five times that of civilians.
Last year, 103 firefighters and 140 police officers committed suicide, whereas 93 firefighters and 129 officers died in the line of duty, which includes everything from being fatally shot, stabbed, drowning or dying in a car accident while on the job. Miriam Heyman, a co-authors of the study, said the suicides are under-reported by the news media, while other more high-profile deaths make headlines. There were 46 officers who died after being fatally shot on the job in 2017, nearly 67 percent under the number of suicides. “It’s really shocking, and part of what’s interesting is that line-of-duty deaths are covered so widely by the press but suicides are not, and it’s because of the level of secrecy around these deaths, which really shows the stigmas,” Heyman said.