Event takes place as first responder suicide rate climbs
VANCOUVER — In observance of a national event entitled “Those Left Behind,’’ firefighters with Clark County Fire District 6 held an event Friday night to remember those who have taken their own lives. The firefighters also wanted to send a message that there is hope and help available.
In what Fire District 6 officials described as “a disturbing trend,’’ more firefighters and first responders are dying every year by suicide than all line-of-duty deaths combined according to a news release circulated by the district Friday afternoon. The claim is supported by a study conducted by the Ruderman Foundation. ClarkCountyToday.com reported on the crisis in this January 2019 story:
In accordance with the national event, at 9 p.m. Friday night, fire engines at all District 6 stations were positioned outside, and for one full minute all engine and truck lights were turned on. District 6 officials also encouraged area residents to join the firefighters or to simply stand in their driveways with a lit candle “to remember the families who are suffering through these preventable losses.’’
Paul and Ellen Krane visited Station 63 in Salmon Creek and lit candles to go with the emergency lights.
“We’ve got (to) support our firefighters and policemen. They do a really tough job out there, and it gets on them,” Paul Krane said. “It’s personal for us. We live right across the street here. These are the guys who serve us and protect us. We’ve got to show them support.”
Fire District 6 recently formed a Peer Support Team to provide support to its members who have had a difficult call or who are suffering from PTSD.
Scott Meucci, a firefighter/EMT, is also a peer support member. He said while the first responder’s job is to help others, over a career, the stress of the job can “stack up.” He hopes an event such as Friday’s display of lights will help bring awareness.