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Study: First responders are more likely to die by suicide than in the line of duty

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Firefighters and police officers work day in and day out to protect the community.

But a new study found that first responders are more likely to die by suicide than in the line of duty, according to a study by the Ruderman Foundation.

The Ruderman Family Foundation is a philanthropic organization that fights for the rights of people with disabilities.

In 2017, there were at least 103 firefighter suicides and 140 police officer suicides compared to 93 firefighters and 129 police officers who died in the line of duty.

The study cites suicide is a result of mental illness, including depression and PTSD, which stems from constant exposure to death and destruction.

Lt. Justin Twaddle with the Quincy Fire Department said they have a Critical Incident Stress Debrief Team, where after a tough call firefighters, police and EMS gather after a tough call to talk about the incident.

"Several incidents have come up in the last few years, where we've realized this is a huge issue in our career," Lt. Twaddle said. "Just the overall awareness of mental health has improved. We're more willing to talk about these things, this is an issue we are all facing."

Deputy Chief Steve Salrin said calls can also hit close to home.

"Typically, if it's a child or something like that you kinda refer that to, whether if that's your own child or somebody that you know, it's easy to get caught up in that, kinda of look at it as your own," Salrin said.

Lt. Twaddle added another initiative the fire department is working on is a peer support group, which focuses more on individual conversations among firefighters.

The Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance (FBHA) estimates that approximately 40% of firefighter suicides are reported. 

Additionally, of the 18,000 law enforcement agencies across the United States, approximately 3-5% have suicide prevention training programs.

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