Friday, September 09, 2011

Firefighter PTSD, Depression and Suicide

Helping the Helpers

Sept. 9, 2011 - When Jack Slivinski Jr., a member of Philadelphia's elite fire rescue squad, killed himself last June, friends and family partly blamed the humiliating suspension he endured after he posed barechested for a firefighters' fund-raising calendar without department permission.

However, few people were aware that the caring, 32-year-old former Marine had been quietly drowning in survivor's guilt in the seven years since his supervisor suffered fatal burns racing into a collapsing building to rescue Slivinski and another firefighter, unaware they'd both gotten out.

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"It was very apparent when you got to know Jack that it was something that was wearing on him," said Lt. Dan Cliggett, his close friend inside and outside the firehouse. Cliggett, along with Slivinski's wife, Carla, from whom he'd separated but hoped to reconcile, believe Slivinski, had developed post-traumatic stress disorder because he felt responsible for the death of Lt. Derrick Harvey, 45.

The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, made heroes of the 343 New York City firefighters who lost their lives rushing to save others at the World Trade Center. But that tragic, life-changing day has also had a more subtle impact on the nation's first responders: It created more awareness, if not empathy, for the sacrifices they make in putting others' lives ahead of their own. It also generated changes in firehouse culture and attitudes. read more>>>

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