A report by the Ruderman Family Foundation shows 103 firefighter suicides and 140 police officer suicides in 2017. That compares to 93 deaths in the line of duty among firefighter and 129 among police last year, meaning first responders are more likely to die by their own hand than on the job.
The report goes on to say that police and firefighters are also five times more likely to suffer PTSD than civilians.
Much of the reason behind elevated rates of suicide among first responders is a direct result of repeat exposure to trauma situations on the job, the report says. But that’s only part of the picture. Jeff Dill, founder of the Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance, says high suicide risk among first responders is a result of what he calls “cultural brainwashing.”