Unspoken Words Sometimes Silence is not Golden

  • Unspoken Words (Sometimes Silence is not Golden)

    By Didymus McHugh, Correspondent

    There are many times that we do not keep quiet, when we should but there are times that are worse. It is the time that we should open our mouths but do not. It may be because we are ashamed, or do not know who to talk with, or think that we should be able to handle the situation. Well, there are times to be vocal and this is this time. Start the discussion. We would do a disservice if we never continue the conversation.

    Firefighters hurt so many ways but all too often, we have become used to playing hurt and do not want to admit that we have a problem. This subject will be brought up more often. The topic for the month is SUICIDE, in particular firefighter and EMS suicide.
    fireman kneeling
    I have been going to classes about suicide and there is so much information, that people ignore. The public may talk about police suicides. This sticks out because the officers have the method of suicide strapped to them, almost all day and night. I reminded the instructor that they forgot about the entire population of firefighters and EMS. They told me that they did not hear about a firefighter going home with an axe and die via suicide. We know so many ways and exposed to many ways and methods.

    So far about 675 cases of suicide have been tracked. Out of that number, five deaths were by immoliation, that is setting yourself on fire. The major method was via firearms.

    There is something wrong going on here. We need to be sensitive to our brothers. We need to know each others’ base line behavior, so that we can tell when they are off their game. Remember that you are allowed to have tailboard chats to express your concerns about a brother one on one with nobody around.

    One of my friends had a good friend who died via suicide and it was painful. “Why did I not see it coming?” We start asking a lot of questions after it happens, but how about a lot of questions to possibly help the person?. Do you even know what to look for?

    According to the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention, these are the Suicide Warning Signs

    “People who kill themselves exhibit one or more warning signs, either through what they say or what they do. The more warning signs, the greater the risk.

    If a person talks about:
    • Killing themselves
    • Having no reason to live
    • Being a burden to others
    • Feeling trapped
    • Unbearable pain

    A person’s suicide risk is greater if a behavior is new or has increased, especially if it’s related to a painful event, loss, or change.
    • Increased use of alcohol or drugs
    • Looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online for materials or means
    • Acting recklessly
    • Withdrawing from activities
    • Isolating from family and friends
    • Sleeping too much or too little
    • Visiting or calling people to say goodbye
    • Giving away prized possessions
    • Aggression

    People who are considering suicide often display one or more of the following moods.
    • Depression
    • Loss of interest
    • Rage
    • Irritability
    • Humiliation
    • Anxiety”

    My thoughts are that so many times a death by suicide is swept under the rug and reported a different way. This may be done so that the family receives all the life insurance and death benefits. But people, look at the reasons, how many people know how that the divorce rate for firefighters is, 85%, versus 77% for police?

    We walk around with so much stress and just keep burying it inside. We still hold onto the “macho” personality that we can handle anything.
    Do we reach out for our help or the help of a brother? Why Not? If we use a CISM team for incidents, and might discuss the incident, why do we hold back? If we keep bottling up our stress, it will come out, this is not too be debated. It can be our health.

    I have talked with some people who have attempted death via suicide and found that hope seemed to be missing in their lives. There are many places to find hope.

    It is interesting that the number one way of death by suicide for law enforcement is also the number one way of death by suicide for fire and EMS. The most reported deaths by suicide is active firefighters versus retired, fired, resigned or disabled. The high number of death by suicide by age are close from 18 to 50. So far this year, there have been 68 completed suicides and last year was the largest amount since the tracking began and that was 104 deaths. What happened last year?

    I personally ask that if you are thinking of hurting yourself or if you of someone thinking about hurting themselves, please call either Serve and Protect at 615-373-8000 or the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255).

    Even though times may seem extremely dark, there is hope that can be found and people that are will to assist you. Psalm 23 states “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” I want you to think about the word “through”. We go through the hard times. We do not continue to live there. Granted it may take some time and may be painful but please remember that God is there with you. You may feel alone but it is alright to call out to Him for help. I ask that you do not give up, there is hope.

    (If you learn of a fire or EMS death by suicide, please report it to ffbha.org, so that we have accurate information to help our brothers and sisters)

    Thank you and stay safe.

    ***Used with written permission from the author.  Original source http://1strespondernews.com/webpages/news/displaynews.aspx?PT=&cat=Chaplains%20Corner&ID=bb3c5a9a-597e-4362-b3f2-348187257d5b