“Nationwide, 21 firefighters have taken their own lives so far this year”
“Picture a firefighter, and an image comes to mind of a compassionate, heroic figure, risking his or her own life while defying the external forces which could possibly cause them harm.
But some in the firefighting service say that very image, stoicism in the face of danger, masks a dark secret — that firefighters themselves endure intense emotional turmoil, and that some take their own lives, unable to cope with that pain.
“I’ve been on this job going on 25 years, and I was only aware of one suicide, and that was 15 years ago,” says Chicago battalion chief Dan Degryse. “Then, in a period of ’08 and ’09, we had seven suicides in eighteen months. In 2010, we had four in five months.”
Chicago is certainly not alone. Nationwide, the numbers have alarmed even hardened veterans of the firefighting fraternity.
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