Understanding capability and suicidal ideation among first responders
Bond, A.E. & Anestis, M.D.
Objective: The present study seeks to determine differences in lifetime suicidal ideation, dispositional capability, acquired capability, and practical capability among those who have and have not served as first responders, and among subgroups of first responders. Methods: Data were collected as part of a large online (n = 3,500) study seeking to understand firearm ownership in the United States. Participants were recruited via Qualtrics Panels and were demographically matched to the 2010 US census. Binary logistic regressions and an exploratory multinomial logistic regression examined differences between first responders and non-first responders and among subgroups of first responders. Results: First responders reported more lifetime suicidal ideation and higher acquired, practical, and dispositional capability than did non-first responders. Findings indicated that first responders with and without military affiliation did not differ in terms of suicidal ideation or capability for suicide. Lastly, law enforcement officers (LEOs) reported more lifetime suicidal ideation than emergency medical technicians (EMTs). LEOs, EMTs, and firefighters did not differ in terms of capability for suicide. Discussion: The findings highlight that suicidal ideation and capability for suicide differ between first responders and non-first responders and among subgroups of first responders. The mechanisms driving the increased rates of suicidal ideation and capability among first responders are unknown; however, it is likely due to a combination of personal and occupational factors. Although not without its limitations, the present study provides an understanding of suicide risk among first responders.