Suicides up among emergency responders in Memphis, experts say

The suicide rate for emergency responders is ten times higher than that of the average citizen, according to the Memphis Crisis Center.

In a city plagued with crime, emergency responders are often on the frontlines of very hostile scenes.

According to the Memphis Police Association, there have been two suicides involving Memphis police officers in the past month.

There was also another attempted suicide.

Record-breaking crime numbers in recent years leaves a lot of work for first responders.

According to a study by the Ruderman Family Foundation, more firefighters and police died last year from suicides than incidents on the job.

“When you’re talking about people who are exposed to various types of trauma, that can exacerbate issues and create PTSD and things like that,” said Mike LaBonte of the Memphis Crisis Center.

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LaBonte told FOX13 the suicide rate for emergency responders is about ten times higher than that of the average citizen.

“A lot of that has to do with exposure to high risk situations. Exposure to critical incidents that can have a real impact,” LeBonte said.

That impact is felt in the Memphis Police Department.

“Within the last month, we’ve had two officers actually commit suicide and one officer who was stopped,” said Mike Williams of the Memphis Police Association.

Williams said low staffing numbers and increasing crime are making it hard for the officers he represents.

“I have guys that are coming into my office, and girls, that are breaking down, crying like babies and we have to try and get them help,” he explained.

And for anyone contemplating suicide -- you can call the Memphis Crisis Center at 901-274-7477.