The Ruderman white paper on mental health and suicide of first responders.
Heyman, M., Dill, J., & Douglas, R.
The unparalleled bravery of first responders is brought to the attention of the public following huge and tragic events, such as the recent incidents of terror in Parkland, Las Vegas, Orlando, Sandy Hook, and more. However, public discourse seldom acknowledges the fact that first responders witness tragedy and horror regularly, if not daily. Constant exposure to death and destruction exerts a toll on the mental health of first responders, and yet many do not
disclose mental health issues nor do they access treatment. This paper seeks to raise awareness about the issue of mental health among first responders in order to alleviate stigma and facilitate access to services.
Leaders within the first responder professions are beginning to speak openly about mental health. Commissioner Evans of the Boston Police Department speaks openly about how he prioritizes his own mental health and the mental health of his officers. There is still a lot of work to be done to ensure that all first responders feel encouraged and not ashamed to access critical and potentially life-saving mental health services. Recommended next steps include exploring instituting mandatory mental health check-ups for first responders. Also, we should celebrate the lives of first responders who die by suicide. Through media coverage and more, they should be remembered as heroes.