Study Finds First Responders Account for 1% of All Suicides

  • Published July 5, 2023
First responders

A recent study supported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Office of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and published in the Journal of Safety Research found that first responders made up 1% of all suicides from 2015-2017. The study highlights the need for more comprehensive research to better inform suicide prevention efforts and interventions for first responders.

EMS providers play a vital role in providing immediate support and comfort to grieving parents who have experienced the loss of a child due to traumatic events or illnesses outside the hospital. The study reveals, however, that the initial encounters with parents facing pediatric fatalities can be overwhelming for EMS providers. Many of these providers feel ill-equipped to handle such emotionally challenging situations, leading to significant stress and, in some cases, even causing EMS providers to leave the profession.

The Emergency Medical Services for Children (EMSC) Program has taken steps to address this serious issue through a past Targeted Issues Grant, which led to the creation of Compassionate Options for Pediatric EMS (COPE). COPE provides resources for EMS providers dealing with the emotional toll of supporting grieving parents, including five training videos, sample phone scripts, tips for self-care, and other support.

Learn more about COPE here. If you or someone you know is thinking about self-harm or suicide or is experiencing a mental health crisis, please know that help is available. Call the National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit the website at