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medicmole

Paramedic Suicides

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Speaking from experience, there is next to no assistance available for responders. There is a new group called "Sheepdogs" that claims to be specifically set up to help first responders and veterans with PTSD, depression, anxiety or any other problem. They also reach out to perform disaster relief since their members are already trained and ready to go. I tried three times to get help from them with no response at all. I looked for PTSD groups in my area but since I am not a veteran, there are none available. My favorite questions when I am looking for assistance are "what branch did you serve in?" and "what could possibly have been that bad?" Lesson learned. I'm on my own.

As for the numbers, there are many things that skew them. I feel certain that the problem in Canada is farther reaching than anyone suspects since suicides are not technically LODDs. I know of two in my area over the last five years, but many more left the business permanently damaged. I know one that disintegrated on a call. I was not present, but those that were said that there didn't seem to be anything special about it. No fatalities, no grisly scene, no kids, just a minor traffic accident. To this day, we don't fully know or understand why a responder that was by all accounts, happy, healthy, and strong just quit mid call. Thankfully, he was a FF, so he got a medical retirement. To this day, he has nothing to do with any of us he worked with for many years. I have known several others that have left in a less dramatic fashion, but simply stated that they couldn't do it anymore. Those that leave, don't count in the suicide numbers since they weren't on the job at the time.

This business still has a hero complex, it hides what doesn't fit the image. Personally, I have never felt like a hero. I'm just a shmoe doing a job that was appealing at one time but now I'm too old and under-trained to do anything else, so I stay. Don't take that wrong, I am still committed to being the best that I can, but given the opportunity, I would leave in a heartbeat.

I am sorry you are feeling alone in your struggles, know that you are not. What area are you in, perhaps our network can help you find some resources for you. I love that military veterans are getting support for mental illness/PTSD, but I too hate the assumption that if you were not in the military, you can't have PTSD. Thank you for sharing your story with us, and know that we're here as a community to help in any way we can.

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Don't forget or discount psychologists, psychiatrists and professionally trained therapists who can deal specifically with people dealing with PTSD outside of the group therapy/support group circuit. They are out there and they can help. Ask your PCP. Find an ER doc you trust when dropping off a patient and pull him/her aside and ask if s/he could recommend someone.

Yes. It sucks that the resources aren't more plainly visible or available. Yes. Post traumatic stress takes on a variety of forms and military service is not a determining factor in who develops the disorder. Yes. It sucks if we have to dig a little deeper or work a little harder to track down someone to help. However, the resources are out there. Just gotta find them.

Hang in there.

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More people die from the flu --- i am sorry, even at 400, it is not an epidemic, at best, it is roughly the same number as those that drown in bathtubs. Is it sad, sure !!!! But to claim it as an epidemic is ridiculous.

The CDC's official definition of an epidemic is: "The occurrence of more cases of disease than expected in a given area or among a specific group of people over a particular period of time."

Does anyone have any proof that suicides in our industry are increasing, or are higher than normal, or higher than any other industry ?

According to this article, we (our industry) do not even make the top 18 among the highest group that commits suicide (white men) :

http://www.newhealthguide.org/Highest-Suicide-Rate-By-Profession.html

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The CDC's official definition of an epidemic is: "The occurrence of more cases of disease than expected in a given area or among a specific group of people over a particular period of time."

If you really want to go this route with the discussion that's ok. Let's talk about disease, then. What's the rate of mental health issues involved in the population that comprises EMS providers?

If you consider this article (with links to resources included within) EMS providers in Canada have twice the risk of PTSD than civilians. Some resources put the rate of PTSD as high as 24% over the duration of a career.

This article from 2012 cites sources that up to 29% of EMS providers demonstrate post traumatic symptoms.

While we all agree that numbers are hard to find because no one is really tracking them this article cites a lower number than has been mentioned previously in this discussion for US based EMS provider suicide while acknowledging that this is likely hugely under-reported. But that number is still more than one a week

And this is just the discussion surrounding PTSD and suicide. This doesn't count or consider the numerous other mental health issues that plague EMS providers.

So here we are with limited numbers and information available. However, what information we do have suggests the risk of PTSD at more than twice the general population. It also suggests rates population wide as high as 29%. At what point, then, do you think the CDC's definition of "disease within a specific group of people over a period of time" is met?

Interestingly enough this discussion and the articles I linked pretty much shoot down your idea that we have lower rates as we see how precious life really is. It's seeing the frequency of the wasting of such precious life over and over again that drags people down.

To be honest I'm not entirely sure what you're driving at or why you're driving so hard. Whether you want to admit it or not this is a problem. It is more widespread than you want to believe. It affects way too many of us. Burying your head in the sand and simply acknowledging it as "sad", the same as one might comment on the passing of a public figure, only contributes to the problem.

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Don't forget or discount psychologists, psychiatrists and professionally trained therapists who can deal specifically with people dealing with PTSD outside of the group therapy/support group circuit. They are out there and they can help. Ask your PCP. Find an ER doc you trust when dropping off a patient and pull him/her aside and ask if s/he could recommend someone.

Yes. It sucks that the resources aren't more plainly visible or available. Yes. Post traumatic stress takes on a variety of forms and military service is not a determining factor in who develops the disorder. Yes. It sucks if we have to dig a little deeper or work a little harder to track down someone to help. However, the resources are out there. Just gotta find them.

Hang in there.

I appreciate the support and suggestions but I have been down this road, too. I started with our Employee Assistance Program which was hysterical. While their counselors might do very well for the average office or factory worker, I saw immediately that they were ill prepared for the difficulties I was seeking help for. Let's face facts, a big part of what we do in our job is reading others. Some of us study body language and the science involved while others just do it without fully understanding how it works. It becomes instinctual. I clearly made both of the counselors I tried to work with very uncomfortable. Whether that discomfort was due to the situations I described, the realization that they were in over their heads, or something else entirely, they were of no help.

I moved on to an actual psychiatrist and saw some improvement there. Mysteriously, I was declared "well" and cut loose. I wasn't sure, but went with it anyway. I went back briefly but thanks to the changes in insurance and co-pays, continued therapy is now out of financial reach. That is how I wound up looking around online and for groups. I figured they were better than nothing.

I found this article this morning and was deeply disappointed to see that the person in charge of finding and helping those that were at risk within our profession in her area succumbed to the very problem she was trying to prevent.

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Rough going, indeed.

There are folks out there who specialize in treating, or who have wider experience in dealing specifically with, first responders and health care providers (EMS providers all the way up to physicians). I don't know where you are or how you would go about finding someone like this in your specific area. However, you may have to dig a little deeper or even drive a few hours to find someone.

Keep hanging in there.

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I found this article this morning and was deeply disappointed to see that the person in charge of finding and helping those that were at risk within our profession in her area succumbed to the very problem she was trying to prevent.

Her suicide has completely rocked the Denver EMS community. I have several friends with Denver Paramedics and not a single one is ok right now. Hang in there brother and we're all here if you need us.

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our deepest sympathies to all who knew her and worked with her.

She survived a long career of helping others ,only to meet a terrible end.

This is the true epidemic : the strong ones are losing the battle

any one incident can be the trigger

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very moving ^^

I think it could have been written by anyone who has spent more than a couple years on the street.

It was like she was in my head and reading my thoughts.

I saw many of these things and knew when it was time to pull the plug and walk away after a 4 decade career.

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