Just An Observation: Choosing to serve is slowly killing even more

Emergency workers continue to die despite apparent increase in help

Now is the time of the year nearly everyone welcomes for a variety of reasons, yet there are some of us that dread it.

Two years ago, I penned a column in this space to speak about a dark topic that many still don’t like to broach — suicide.

Unfortunately, many of the issues behind this and the struggles that continue still remain a part of our society — some even worse than back then.

At the time, there were around four people that I personally knew that had taken their lives. Well, that number has dramatically increased in the last 24 months and the tragedy is that a vast majority of these new victims are involved in the emergency services sector.

Sure, there are times where people experience anxiety, bouts of depression and sadness, or other hurdles that create an atmosphere that can be rather unhealthy both mentally and physically.

That goes for me as well, though the worst time is nearly 30 years past, and I have had an excellent support structure in place since then that I can reach out to when it’s time to vent.

However, despite knowing that some of the people I’ve seen pass away recently had all or more of that in place, they were still unable to reach out from the depths of despair.

There are emergency medical personnel, career and volunteer firefighters as well as police and peace officers that have succumbed to the darkness even though the places they worked for had was thought to be great policies, procedures and programming available.

Yet, the system seems to be as broken as the individuals it is supposed to be helping and it remains obvious that more lobbying for changes is necessary.

Apparently simply increasing spending on information such as posters, booklets and awareness campaigns or paying for individual counselling isn’t the answer. Neither is leaving things up to the individual, their family, an internal process or to colleagues — which is what some organizations still do.

While there have been suggestions about what is needed, there have been many things left on the table in the name of fixing something more important.

What is more important than the lives of people?

Many of those lost have dedicated themselves to their profession and would not want to do anything else.

Yet, when they need help — be it dealing with substance abuse issues or post traumatic stress disorder or other troubles — too many are having concerns glossed over, superficially treated and even denied services because they don’t seem sick.

The tragic losses are mounting due to this and the people the public believe are strong, helpful and caring are slowly turning dark from the inside out.

Also, this devastating reality may be part of the reason behind the shortage of volunteers for fire departments across Canada, in addition to the far fewer recruits that are making careers in the police and emergency medical services.

Help is needed for those of us that choose to help others. Without making a difference, this trend will continue.

But that is…just an observation.

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