Suicide Rate of Fire Fighters Due to Job Related Stress

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Suicide Rate of Fire-Fighters due to Job-Related Stress
Brenda Bell-Smith
Barry University
Public Safety
PUB 409
Dr. Smith
Jun 25, 2008

Suicide Rate of Fire-Fighters due to Job-Related Stress

Few individuals realize the gravity of depression in another human’s life. For some, the state of being depressed is a choice, and a person can easily “snap out of it” if only they would think positively and cut all the drama. Depression, however, is a medical condition, an actual disease of the mind that is not easily fixed with mere will power. People sick with flu or colds are not asked to cure themselves, hence, why should depressed individuals bear their sufferings alone and without any care? It is a relief, nonetheless, that depression is not anymore new. Millions of individuals have it and millions are also seeking the necessary treatment and medication to get on with their lives. However, recognizing and acknowledging the problem, as opposed to ignoring it, is the first step towards recovery. From the early philosophers, scholars and scientists’ perspectives, depression is a mystery caused by unknown powers in the universe. Based from early accounts, depressed or melancholic people demonstrate bizarre behaviour, in which nobody could pinpoint the reason behind. Symptoms range from extreme sadness and lack of zeal in life to drastic mood changes. With the gradual development of modern scientific processes and correspondence among experts, specialists were able to define depression, identified its symptoms, and tried to discover its causes and remedies. Frequent experiences with stress and its impact on physical health are not unique. In fact, in a study made by S. Cohen, D. Tyrell and A. Smith (1993) entitled, “Negative life events, perceived stress, negative affect, and susceptibility to the common cold”, they found a strong relationship between stressful life events (for example, death in the family) and increased susceptibility to colds. In addition, they also discovered that “Negative life events were associated with greater rates of clinical illness” (p. 135), which may mean, that if we are sad, angry or dissatisfied, we are bound to be affected physically. Their experiment somewhat established that “psychological stress is associated with increased susceptibility to biologically verified infectious disease processes” (p. 140). One of the firefighters who survived the Sept 11, 2001 bombing killed himself after the incident. After the incident, Gary Celentani also lost his mother and ended a romance. But he was in a terrible pain after the bombing. His suicide can be attributed to the tremendous hurt and pain after he tried to rescue people from the buildings. Other police officers who were also involved in the rescue operations also committed suicide. Aside from this, Philip McArdle, the health and safety officer for the 600-member Uniformed Firefighters Association, is also aware of about half-dozen suicide attempts by other firefighters since Sept. 11. He was also suggesting that this would increase depending on what steps the authorities will take to counsel them even after a long time. Another study conducted by Schwarzer and U. Schulz (1991) entitled “The Role of Stressful Life Events” also concluded that “Stressful life events can shape individual biographies and affect mental and physical health to a large extent, including premature death as a result of suicide or severe disease” (Schwarzer and Schulz 26).

Figure 1. Process Model of the Stress/Health Relationship, based on the Transactional Stress Theory by Lazarus (1991).

There are an exact number of suicides among the rescue workers from other disasters. This is because suicide is the cause of nearly 11 people out of every 100,000 US deaths. There have been about 100 police officers and paramedics that committed suicide from the...
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