Study: Female firefighters more at risk for PTSD, suicide

Out of the 2,639 firefighters surveyed, only 75 responses were from females and 20% scored positive for PTSD and 30% will consider suicide throughout her life


By FireRescue Staff

HOUSTON — Female firefighters are more likely to have suicidal thoughts or suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), according to a University of Houston study.

New Jersey 101.5 reports the study found that in a large urban fire department experience, one out of five female firefighters experience PTSD, while one out of eight men experience PTSD.

Women who had second jobs tended to show higher levels of stress, possibly due to having children at home. (Photo/USMC by Nathan L. Hanks Jr.)
Women who had second jobs tended to show higher levels of stress, possibly due to having children at home. (Photo/USMC by Nathan L. Hanks Jr.)

Consuelo Arbona, University of Houston professor of counseling psychology, and author of the study, dived into the data collected rom 2,639 firefighters. Out of the total surveyed, only 75 responses were from females and 20% scored positive for PTSD and 30% will consider suicide throughout her life, according to the University of Houston.

"I think every first responder is put under a significant amount of stress. It doesn't necessarily have to be different based on your gender, if that makes sense," Sandy Lynch, an Evesham firefighter and director of a peer support group in South Jersey, said. "I think it just depends on your resiliency factors that are in place prior to taking on this career and possibly the external pressures you put on yourself, whether it be from society or ... just being a female firefighter."

The study also found that one in five females retain a second job in urban areas.

“Women who had second jobs tended to show higher levels of stress, possibly due to having children at home. The findings indicate that this is a good area for psychologists working with the women to explore for effective intervention,” Arbona said.

Lynch advises to female firefighters “to never isolate yourself. Just always reach out to someone and ask for help."

 

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