Anyone else notice the rate of fire service suicides is astronomical? Here’s what you need to know.

On Wednesday night at 9pm ET, in a very special Firefighter Netcast show, I welcome back Jeff Dill, a Battalion Chief of the Palatine Rural Fire Protection District in Inverness, IL, and retired Fire Chief Patrick Kenny of the Hinsdale (IL) Fire Department.

B/C Dill is a nationally recognized authority on behavioral health issues within the fire service.He established Counseling Services for Fire Fighters, LLC based on the tragic events that surrounded Hurricane Katrina. When speaking with firefighters who returned after serving the community of New Orleans, Jeff heard the pleas of firefighters who had a difficult time talking with counselors who did not have any firefighting experience. They became frustrated and never did seek the help they needed.

You can listen to Jeff’s last appearance on the Firefighter Netcast Show here: “Counseling For a Firefighter- By a Firefighter”

In this program, Chief Dill tells us about a new resource coming to the aid of the fire service.  Last month, Chief Dill announced the formation of Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance (FBHA). The new 501(c) (3) organization was established to directly educate firefighters/ Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel and their families about behavioral health issues such as depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), anxiety and addictions, as well as firefighter suicides.

FBHA's sole goal is to promote good mental health to the men and women of the fire service/EMS and their families, as well as make a significant difference in reducing the numbers of firefighters who are turning to suicide to ease their pain. FBHA Founder Jeff Dill holds a Master's Degree in Counseling, and is a Licensed Profes+sional Counselor in the state of Illinois.

Joining Chief Dill will be a very special guest- retired Fire Chief Patrick Kenny of the Hinsdale (IL) Fire Department.  Chief Kenny is the Assistant Executive Director of the Illinois Fire Chiefs Association and a representative at the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation Seminar on Depression and Suicide.

Tragically, in 2006, Chief Kenny lost his son Sean to suicide.  He reflects on the obstacles and challenges he faced as a father as well as a chief officer during his personal nightmare.  Since then, Chief Kenny has travelled across the nation and around the world sharing his intensely personal story and promoting advocacy of mental health awareness in the fire service and beyond.

Find out more by visiting any the links above, or browsing these others:

 "A Father's Grief"

 

3 Comments

  • D H M says:

    Counseling with firefighters that were trained and involved was started in Macomb Cty over 20 years ago.  The chief counselor at the time was with the Salvation Army.  When ever we were requested by a department, after a very traumatic response.  A group would go to that department  and talk with those that had responded.  This lasted for about a year, then it was determined that this service was no longer needed.  These were men and could handle there problems.  It is amazing how things have changed.

    • John Mitchell says:

      Thanks D H M.  It’s interesting that “it was determined that this service was no longer needed.”  Machismo does not make “men” immune from mental health issues, in fact, many “men” are afraid to admit they need help with the very serious issues we face.  I would further add to your last sentence: …and yet how much hasn’t really changed at all.”

      I hope you tune in Wednesday night, or download it later.

  • Shannon H. Pennington says:

    Jeff Dill and Pat Kenny joined myself and a number of others at the Baltimore Symposium on Depression and Suicide in the American Fire Service hosted by the National Fallen Firefighter Foundation.  The initial run towards the understanding began under section 13 Mental Health and Wellness of the Everyone Goes Home Firefighter Life Safety Initiatives of the NFF 16 Life Saving Initiatives.  In Baltimore we were joined by representatives from the I.A.F.F. including Chicago, New York, the National Volunteer Fire Counsel and a number of outside organizations including Dr. Thomas Joiner from Florida State University.  F.D. Phoenix has launched their program for suicide awareness and it is on line.  North American Firefighter Veteran Network uses the following phrases to assist front line firefighterveterans in going large diameter in their thinking regarding stress and depression.  H.O.T. meaning Hazardous Overload of Thoughts, W.E.T. meaning Wasted Emotional Thoughts, A.I.R. meaning Accept Individual Responsibility, don’t wait for the system to help you get connected to the information out there. H.E.A.T. meaning Heavy Emotional Afterthoughts.  When the stress gets to you and your H.O.T. and W.E.T. get A.I.R. from the H.E.A.T.  Get down get low get help.  Buddy up for close support.  The help is there.
    See the article on line using Google Search and key in Baltimore Symposium on Depression and Suicide in the Fire Service.  Connect to firefighterveteran.com on line.  It is out there for you the firefighterveteran.
    Shannon H. Pennington 
    Ex IAFF 26 year Career Firefighter
    PTSD survivor.

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John Mitchell

Firefighter/Paramedic and a Lieutenant in suburban Chicago

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