Police & first responders with mental health issues

Police & first responders with mental health issues
The low level violence of reacting to traumatic events.

The stats are rather alarming, the number of suicides among first responders in the last year: police, firemen, ambulance drivers, etc. On a recent panel discussion on CBC Anna Maria Tremonti, was reviewing this issues with several people in this position, some of whom had tried to commit suicide, most were now in a different job, unable to work in their original position, many of them having to battle the very slow bureaucracy which failed to recognize or acknowledge PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) symptoms. Altogether a sad picture.

At least we’re talking about it openly. Fifty years ago PTSD was not even on the table. There was the expression “shell shock” that came out of WWI, but it was generally accepted that these were rare exceptions and probably only because those involved were “weak” somehow and unable to take it.
It’s a similar argument, I would say, as the argument against exposing small children to deliberately frightening images/ events. Not many people believe it’s a big deal either. It’s only recently that as a culture we’ve begun to realize that traumas can affect anyone. And once exposed the aftereffects can be equally traumatic, even life-threatening.

In my work with the fright-free material and in interviewing people about the topic of trauma in childhood, I was impressed at the number of those who confessed to being very frightened about something in their childhood, often revealing it for the first time even: scenes from Snow White where the girl is being chased through the woods, the bad guy in Raiders of the Lost Arc, scenes from a fairy tale where the head is cut off, the list goes on and on. The amount of silence around these fears is a common theme – “I never told anyone”.

What needs to happen now is, along with more understanding, is the recognition of how delicate we are as humans and the realization that traumas are indeed a great violence and should be avoided where possible. And for those who are in a position of having to face traumas as a matter of course, there needs to be not only a post-session set of expected de-programming, but also a pre-trauma preparation, which has not even been mentioned yet.

Visit the website FrightFree.com

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