Full Abstract: Recent research has indicated that firefighters are at elevated suicide risk. Fire service organizations have called for research to examine fire service subgroups that might be at relatively increased suicide risk. Although anecdotal reports suggest that wildland firefighters represent one such group, to our knowledge, no study has empirically examined this conjecture. Thus, the present investigation examined if wildland firefighters report greater levels of suicide risk than non-wildland firefighters. Moreover, we sought to determine if two constructs proposed by the interpersonal theory of suicide to comprise suicidal desire—thwarted belongingness and perceived burdensomeness—statistically explain the link between wildland firefighter status and suicide risk. Merged data from two nationwide investigations of firefighter mental health were utilized (N = 1,131; 68.2% male, 89.4% White). A total of 1.8% (n = 20) of the sample identified as wildland firefighters. Compared to non-wildland firefighters, wildland firefighters reported greater levels of suicide risk. Thwarted belongingness, but not perceived burdensomeness, statistically explained this link. Findings suggest that programs enhancing social connectedness within the fire service, particularly among wildland firefighters, might be one avenue for suicide prevention among firefighters. Results of this novel investigation should be interpreted in light of the relatively small subgroup of wildland firefighters.
Stanley, I. H., Hom, M. A., Gai, A. R., and Joiner, T. H. Wildland firefighters and suicide risk: Examining the role of social disconnectedness. Psychiatry Research: Volume 266. Aug 2018, pp 269-274. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychres.2018.03.017