Year: 2016 Source: Clinical Psychology Review.(2016). 44:25-44.doi:10.1016/j.cpr.2015.12.002 SIEC No: 20160049

First responders, police officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians (EMTs), and paramedics, experience significant job-related stressors and exposures that may confer increased risk for mental health morbidities (e.g., posttraumatic stress disorder PTSD, suicidal thoughts and behaviors) and hastened mortality (e.g., death by suicide). Inherent in these occupations, however, are also factors (e.g., camaraderie, pre-enlistment screening) that may inoculate against the development or maintenance of psychiatric conditions. Several reviews of the literature have documented the prevalence and potency of PTSD among first responders; the value of these extant reviews is considerable. Nonetheless, the literature has not been systematically described with regard to suicidality. In this systematic review, we present 63 quantitative studies examining suicidal thoughts, behaviors, and/or fatalities among first responders; identify population-specific risk and protective factors; and pinpoint strengths and weaknesses of the existing literature. Findings reveal elevated risk for suicide among first responders; however, studies utilizing more rigorous methodologies (e.g., longitudinal designs, probability sampling strategies) are sorely needed. First responders have an armamentarium of resources to take care of others; it is the duty of researchers, clinicians, and the public to aid in taking care of their health as well, in part by reducing suicide risk.

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