It certainly appears that suicide among EMS providers is on the increase. All too often we read articles like this one from Canada citing anecdotes and making promises. We know that the work is demanding and routinely exposes providers to critical incident stress. It is also no secret that all too often, the providers who face these incidents are left to deal with this accumulating stress on their own; either because of a lack of effective employer-based programs or due to a culture that discourages disclosure and treatment. When stress is left unaddressed, it can lead to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD increases the risk of suicide and can be compounded by an individual’s negative coping strategies. Positive coping strategies and personal resilience, on the other hand, may actually help reduce PTSD risk and even contribute to Post-Traumatic Growth (PTG).
Faith Boldt, a Masters candidate in Public Health at Western Kentucky University, is conducting an important survey, which takes only about 20 minutes of your time to complete. Your time can be pivotal in impacting her study to investigate the relationship between PTSD and suicide ideation. The results will provide data on the prevalence of PTSD along with suicide ideation and will be offered to identify strategies to reduce that risk.
The survey will only be available for a short while, so please take time to click here and fill out this research survey honestly on PTSD and suicide ideation factors affecting EMS personnel. This is an important subject in EMS and it affects us all! So consider sharing the link and encouraging other first responders to participate as well.
The issues of mental health awareness in EMS are only just beginning to be discussed more openly. We can thank the efforts of people like Paul Combs in his illustrations like this sample below or organizations such as The Code Green Campaign , #IVEGOTYOURBACK911 or Heroes Are Human. Please show your support for them as well. But most of all, make sure you have the support you need, because more than anything else, we want you to be safe!