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Code 3 Podcast: Ending the firefighter PTSD, suicide crisis with Dena Ali

Explore what is driving the growing incidence of firefighter suicides and what can be done to combat PTSD in first responders


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It’s not well-known outside the fire service, but there’s a suicide crisis among firefighters. We’re now to the point that there are more suicides each year than line of duty deaths.

In 2016, 89 firefighters were killed in the line of duty, while 130 died by suicide. The trend has been growing for several years now.

A 2015 survey of more than 4,000 first responders found that 6.6 percent had attempted suicide. That’s more than 10 times the rate in the general population.

In this episode, we speak with Dena Ali about what is driving this trend and what can we do to stop it.

Dena is a captain with the Raleigh (N.C.) Fire Department. She’s been there for 10 years. Before that, she was a police officer. She is a graduate student at the University of North Carolina, where she’s focusing on firefighter suicide.

Code 3 is hosted by award-winning journalist Scott Orr, who has covered the fire/EMS/police beat for most of his 30-plus year career in news. He’s worked around the country in both TV and print. Orr was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease over a decade ago, but that doesn’t stop him from interviewing fire service leaders on issues that concern firefighters around the nation.