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Emotional Stress Often Deadliest Enemy For Firefighters

The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

The suicide of a firefighter who had a reputation for being a brave and positive force in his Florida community last month has shined a light on post-traumatic stress disorder in his profession.

On Oct. 15, Vero Beach Battalion Chief David Dangerfield posted a message about PTSD on Facebook before going out into the woods and fatally shooting himself.

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.