103, that’s the number of firefighters and EMT’s that died by suicide last year in the U.S., in comparison to only 93 who died while on duty.
“Think about this, we have a job where we go to someone else’s worst day and then we have to deal with that on our own emotional level,” says Josh Sittler, Honey Creek Fire Department.
Local fire departments such as Honey Creek and Sugar Creek depend on many first responders who are in their early 20’s, and Sittler believes some of the situations that they face can take its toll. “20 year olds, 21 year olds, they may have never seen anything like this. Hey if you need to talk to someone about this, call.”
Matt Hinkel has served on the Sugar Creek Fire Department for only three years but he has already seen how a tragic event can have lasting effects. “I think it’s just part of our human nature, some of us can deal with it. Others, you know we just have such a big heart and these things, they destroy us.” says Matt Hinkel, Sugar Creek Fire Department.
Often times the memories of tragedy in the past can often affect a first responders future.
“Every time these tones drop and a certain call comes out, certain guys get flashbacks of these tragic events they’ve seen,” said Matt Hinkel.
Local fire departments have taken steps to make sure that mental health is a priority such as debriefing after major calls, but Sittler hopes that if someone still needs help that they ask for it. “We also sometimes need help, and we shouldn’t just push it away in the back of our minds.”