Over the past couple of weeks, our public safety family has lost more members of our profession to suicide. JEMS, EMS1 and other EMS outlets continue to report these unfortunate and preventable suicides. Why are we missing the signs? Why is this happening?
A survey conducted of 4,000 first responders found that 6.6 percent had attempted suicide, which is more than 10 times the rate in the general population. This survey came from an article in 2015 published in the Journal of Emergency Medical Services (JEMS). The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review in March of 2017 interviewed Jeff Dill, CEO and Founder of the Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance. Friends, family and coworkers reported 132 first-responder suicides nationwide in 2016 to the Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance, nonprofit that monitors and tracks public safety suicides and promotes better mental health support for first responders. (Mr. Dill was on Medic2Medic a few months back). The voluntary reports are some of the only data available on the deaths and likely capture only about 40 percent of them according to Mr. Dill. Besides a better job of tracking the data, we have to do a better job in world of prevention.
All this leads me to an important topic this week Medic2Medic. Getting help for our public safety family. The podcast over the past year has covered this topic and will continue to on this important subject. Chief Dan DeGryse from the Chicago Fire Department joins me to discuss how we can help. Chief DeGryse has 28 years with CFD and holds the rank as Battalion Chief/EMT. Chief DeGryse holds degrees in Fire Science Management and Psychology. He spent 6 years as a counselor at a private hospital, where his experience included individual, group, and family therapy for adolescents and adults in the area of addictions and behavior management.
What is also unique about Chief DeGryse is that he is the Director of the Rosecrance Florian Program. Rosecrance is a leading provider of behavioral health services with nationally recognized addiction treatment programs. Rosecrance is a place for veterans and public safety providers can go to who need help.The Chief shares his start at CFD and his career path. He shares his personal story and how that led him to become the Coordinator of the Chicago Firefighters’ Union Local 2 Employee Assistance Program for 14 years. You will hear during our conversation the importance of firefighter and EMS mental health, emotional wellbeing, peer support and sleeping.