GASTONIA, NC (WBTV) - First responders are trained to save our lives, but after hundreds of firefighters committed suicide in just one year, they’re now working to save their own.
An emotional support group has been formed in Gaston County.
A recent study by the Ruderman Family Foundation noted that nearly 260 firefighters took their own lives in 2017. That statistic alone did not sit well with firefighters across the county, so they decided to do something about it for all first responders.
Being a firefighter, police officer, deputy or paramedic is sometimes a job that many feel called to do. It’s a job that requires a lot and can take a toll on you, not just when first responders are at the scene of a fire or a car wreck, but also when they clock out and go home.
Brad Hall, the Gaston County Firefighters Association Chaplain, asked, “What happens when you can’t sleep at night? What happens when that call is over with months ago and you’re still trying to process?”
Death and destruction are normal to the men and women who risk their lives while on the job. Studies show those disturbing scenes sometimes causes depression or other mental illnesses, even if those in uniform won’t admit to it.
“If you ask anybody that’s in a responder position, ‘How are you doing?’ ‘Oh I’m fine,’ Well chances are, they’re probably not,” said Hall.
The departments across the county that are connected to 911 can now come together for emotional support. The truth is, you can’t fully take care of someone else, until you take care of yourself.
“We want to be able to reach each other because we’re in the trenches together. We know what we face. We know how we feel when we’re done with that bad call,” Hall continued.
This space is made so first responders don’t suffer in silence. Because where there’s help, there’s hope.
The group will meet at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, March 11 at Gaston College and on the second Monday of every month after that.