VERO BEACH, Fla. (AP) -The final Facebook message and suicide of a fire chief in Florida has shined a light on firefighters who suffer post-traumatic stress disorder, a problem most often associated with soldiers returning from war.
One Saturday last month, Vero Beach Battalion Chief David Dangerfield posted a message about PTSD on Facebook before going out into the woods and fatally shooting himself.
Firefighters who spend years witnessing deaths, injuries and destruction are finding that their tradition of silent stoicism has left many of them psychologically and emotionally damaged.
The Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance estimates about 30 percent of the nation’s 1.3 million career and volunteer firefighters suffer from PTSD, with 132 suicides by active and former U.S. firefighters and paramedics reported last year.
There have been recent national efforts to train firefighters to recognize PTSD and to remove the stigma of seeking help.