FBHA Releases White Paper on Moral Injury in Firefighters
February 21, 2023
The statistics are alarming: 57.6% of firefighters report having experienced a major morally injurious event, like injured children or evidence of abuse. 49.8% admitted to feeling emotionally detached and isolated, long recognized as a mental-health stressor. From 2014-2020, more firefighters died by suicide than in the line of duty.
The Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance (FBHA), along with Elizabeth Anderson-Fletcher, Ph.D. and Chaplain Mark Schimmelpfennig, M. Div., have released a comprehensive report designed to help educate both clinicians and firefighters on the prevalence and effects of moral injury in the fire service industry.
The fire service culture has begun to recognize the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but an emerging issue firefighters face is moral injury, which occurs just as often in the men and women serving their communities. Moral injury is a relatively new term in first responder circles, with signs and symptoms that can mirror those of the more widely recognized PTSD – even though they are distinctly different ailments.
Moral injury generally results from a major conflict in one’s moral code which causes a negative response, such as having to prioritize who can be saved and who cannot. Education about moral injury and its effects is critical to help individuals normalize their own unique, personal reactions to morally injurious events.
About the Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance
FBHA was founded in 2010 to track firefighter and EMS suicides across America. In 2019, FBHA began tracking emergency services dispatcher suicides as well. Responding to unprecedented need, FBHA now presents eight different first-responder-focused workshops on behavioral health to fire departments and EMS organizations across the globe. These spotlight behavioral health awareness, suicide prevention, and resources for firefighters/EMS and their families. Learn more at www.ffbha.org.