EMS Suicide Risk – Let’s Take Care of Each Other
October 19, 2018
Written by Clay Smith
EMS providers had 39% greater odds of death by suicide than the general population in this Arizona-based sample. This problem is real. Reach out if you need help. See below.
Why does this matter?
There is much talk these days about physician burnout and suicide. Suicide touches all of us. We lost a beloved physician colleague, one of our trauma surgeons. But what about EMS? They see things even more disturbing than we do in the ED on a regular basis. How are our EMS colleagues doing?
Take care of each other
This was an analysis of all deaths in Arizona over a 7-year period. They stratified them by occupation and looked at all deaths among EMS providers, which included EMTs, firefighters, helicopter EMS RNs, and paramedics. The adjusted odds of suicide as cause of death among EMS providers was 39% greater than the general population (aOR 1.39 [95%CI, 1.06-1.82]). This is incredibly sad. Prehospital care is extremely stressful. Although it is usually our EMS friends and colleagues with the best and funniest stories, what they see firsthand can also be emotionally traumatic and haunting. This is yet another call for us to take care of each other. Sometimes we need to be the one the ask the hard but potentially life-saving question, “Are thinking about taking your own life?” You may be the only one who is close enough to see. Better to ask than to regret. See below for some resources.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has an array of helpful resources.
Death by Suicide-The EMS Profession Compared to the General Public. Prehosp Emerg Care. 2018 Sep 14:1-6. doi: 10.1080/10903127.2018.1514090. [Epub ahead of print]
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