The stigma associated with suicide makes it one of those events that are not talked about in the fire service. Working with researchers at Texas A&M College of Medicine and Baylor Scott & White Healthcare, the IAFF offers new resources for IAFF members dealing with the tragic loss of a fellow brother or sister to suicide.
The IAFF has dealt with several members’ suicides as line of duty deaths and also responds to locals that have been faced suicides when requested by the affiliate leadership.
The IAFF recognizes that the stigma surrounding suicide must be addressed in order to help prevent these tragedies and to provide resources and counseling to assist those coping with the suicide of a member.
Funded by a FEMA Fire Prevention and Safety grant, researchers from Texas A&M and Baylor Scott & White Healthcare developed standard operating procedures (SOP) for fire departments to use in the wake of a member suicide, as well as the educational and awareness brochure Fire Fighter Suicide: How to Cope With Grief and Loss. The SOP was designed to be used by a variety of departments and can be edited to fit different departmental policies and structures.
The goal is for fire departments to develop their own best practices guidelines on suicide postvention that address the best course of action for members and the department to take after a tragic loss of a member to suicide. These materials will help identify warning signs of suicide and provide information about common myths and the facts about suicide.
If your department uses these documents, contact the Principal Investigator of the study, Dr. Suzy Bird Gulliver, who can connect you with further resources and an expert consultation on suicide postvention. You will also have the opportunity to share your experiences in implementing the SOP in your department to give others a better understanding on how to best help members in the wake of a tragic suicide.
For more information, contact Principal Investigator Dr. Gulliver at [email protected] or (508) 524-9164.
Additional behavioral health resources are available on the IAFF Behavioral Health Program page.