Struggles first responders face, and how to get help


(WTNH) — Police officers and fire fighters are no strangers to line of duty tragedies. First responders have more exposure to trauma and death.

Pamela Mautte, Director of Alliance for Prevention & Wellness at BH Care said, “They go on a lot of fatal calls in which they have that familiarity with death. There’s also Post Traumatic Stress Disorder which can also be a contributing factor.”

Mautte told News 8 suicide is among the leading cause of death in the United States.

“It’s the second leading cause of death for people ages 15-24. In Connecticut, it’s the 11th leading cause of death overall, and here in Connecticut we lose one person every 22 hours from a suicide,” said Mautte.

Mautte said police officers and firefighters are more likely to die by suicide than in the line of duty, “Because of their exposure to trauma, the stress. Many times they work different hours and that adds to some of the fatigue and stress they go through.”

Dealing with fatal accidents is not easy for first responders.

Rick Fontana, New Haven Emergency Operations Deputy Director said, “As you’re responding to these calls, you don’t know what it is. [It could be] a motor vehicle accident…or you could pull up with a fatality and an extrication and you try to prepare yourself on the way there.”

Rick Fontana told News 8 that first responders go through a debriefing after a tragedy, talking to their supervisors about what they experienced.

Fontana added, “It has a psychological impact no doubt about it, and just having the mechanism to have those discussions, to bring it out and not take it home because it doesn’t happen right after…more longer term after.”

There are several online resources of where you can learn more about suicide prevention and who you can contact if you or a loved one need help.

Connecticut residents that are facing a crisis or are concerned about a loved one facing a crisis can call 211 or (1-800-203-1234) to talk to a trained crisis worker.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.

To find out more about the resources and programs Connecticut offers, click here.


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