Dallas firefighter’s suicide sparks conversation about the issue

The firefighter, who was arrested on a DWI charge, had to take regular breathalyzer and drug tests; when he failed a test, he went home and died by suicide

By FireRescue1 Staff

DALLAS — The recent suicide of a Dallas firefighter is sparking conversation about the issue in the fire service.

KHOU reported that the firefighter was arrested earlier this year for a DWI and was placed in a two-year rehabilitation program under the department’s policy.

As part of the program, the firefighter had to take regular breathalyzer and drug tests. He failed a breathalyzer test earlier this month. After failing the test, he went home and died by suicide.

“It’s a loss for our department,” Dallas Fire-Rescue Chief David Coatney said. “After spending hours with his crew, I saw the pain as we talked about their memories of him. It was very much like losing a family member.”

A 2015 study revealed that nearly half of the 1,000 firefighters who participated had suicidal thoughts at least once in their career.  In 2016, the Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance confirmed the suicides of 99 firefighters and 36 EMS providers.

“If you ask firefighters, every one of them is going to tell you that they know a firefighter or two that’s killed themselves,” Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance founder Jeff Dill said. “That’s a sad truth.”

Chief Coatney said he conducts peer support teams and critical incident stress debriefings after intense calls.

“The fire service has to change,” Chief Coatney said. “It's difficult for people to come forward and show any form of weakness, but it really takes a stronger person to come forward than to internalize it.”

WFAA ORIGINAL: Our first responders are suffering

A recent Dallas firefighter suicide has brought renewed focus to the trauma our firefighters and EMTs are subjected to every day. At 10, Tanya Eiserer will show you what is being done to protect the mental health of our first responders.

Publié par WFAA-TV sur mercredi 27 septembre 2017


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