Study Finds Firefighters Are More Likely to Die by Suicide Than in The Line of Duty


Megan Allison


study by the Ruderman Foundation shows firefighters are more likely to die by suicide than in the line of duty.

The study found that in 2017 there were at least 103 reported firefighter suicides nationwide. By comparison, 93 died in the line of duty.

Departments estimate only 40% of these suicides are reported.

Some firefighters tell KATU they’re often warned of the dangers on the job. But Troy Buzalsky said he wasn’t prepared for the role mental health would play in his almost 40 years of service.

Four suicides almost became five when Buzalsky’s brother and fellow firefighter, Todd Buzalsky, was contemplating suicide.

“I would sit down here at a local park with my handgun. It was down to that point. And I decided, you know what, I’m going to go get help,” Todd Buzalsky said.

Just four months ago, Cowlitz Fire & Rescue lost a battalion chief, Mike Zainfeld, when he took his own life.

Now his co-workers left behind are urging those suffering to seek help.

“You’re not in this alone. Look for somebody, anybody, if you’re in this situation,” Todd Buzalsky, a driver and paramedic for Cowlitz 2 Fire & Rescue, said.

Both Longview Fire and Cowlitz Fire have created peer support groups.

The two brothers tell KATU it’s becoming much easier to address mental health.

If you’re experiencing a mental health crisis, help is always available. You can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

This article was originally published here:

About Megan Allison

Megan Allison joined the KATU team as a General Assignment Reporter in November 2019. She’s thrilled to return to Oregon after starting her career in Medford.

Before making the jump to Portland, Megan reported in Tulsa, Oklahoma at KJRH. She covered everything from tornadoes to the historic teacher walkout in 2018.

While reporting in Medford, Megan worked at KTVL. She covered wildfires, homelessness, and the local rental crisis.

After growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Megan is delighted to return to the West Coast. In her free time she’s usually watching comedy, trying a new workout, or looking for the best Pad Thai in town.

Megan is an Emmy Award-winning journalist and proud alum of Boston University. She couldn’t be happier to make Portland her home.