Studies have shown that first responders are at a much greater risk to develop post-traumatic stress disorder than the general public due to their exposure to high levels of physical and emotional stress. Sadly, throughout their career, many first responders will develop anxiety, depression, PTSD, and other mental health issues, that are oftentimes linked to suicide.
Mental health, a once-taboo subject for departments, is now becoming more normalized with the aid of department programs, advocacy campaigns, and initiatives that help educate and bring awareness to PTSD, depression, and other types of mental health issues commonly found in first responders.
September is Suicide Awareness Month. Do your part in helping decrease first responder suicide by learning how to spot the early signs of PTSD in your first responder friends, family members, or colleagues.
Early signs of PTSD to look out for include:
- Memories of the traumatic event
- Nightmares or upsetting dreams
- Emotional reactions triggered by a reminder of the traumatic event
Eluding & Avoiding
- Not speaking of the event
- Avoiding people, places, or activities
- Lack of Interest
- Feeling detached
- Memory problems
- Easily startled or frightened
- Trouble sleeping and concentrating
- Exhibiting self-destructive behavior
- Always being on guard
Over time, these symptoms can differ and vary in intensity.
If you or someone you know is struggling with any of these signs of PTSD or other mental health issues, you are not alone. Please reach out to a mental health professional. If you do not feel comfortable speaking to a professional, start by reaching out to a close colleague, family member, or friend.
If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.
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