We lost another firefighter

Pine Valley Creek Bridge
Bridge on Interstate 8 over Pine Creek near Pine Valley, California as seen from an airliner July 11, 2005. Uploaded to Wikipedia by NicksGarage.

On Sunday November 5 we lost another wildland firefighter to the suicide epidemic. After completing his shift that morning at CAL FIRE’s Station 20 in El Cajon, California Captain Ryan Mitchell took his own life at the Interstate 8 Pine Valley bridge in San Diego County near Pine Valley.

“This tragic and unexplainable incident has affected many personnel in the Unit, both those that knew Ryan and those that responded to the incident”, Unit and County Fire Chief Tony Mecham wrote Sunday in a message to the county firefighters. “I am proud of our personnel and the efforts undertaken today under very difficult conditions. I especially want to thank those personnel who spent the day at the scene and accompanied Ryan to the Medical Examiners Office this evening.”

“While we may never know exactly what lead to this tragic event”, Chief Mecham continued,  “what we do know is that mental health issues are real and no one should feel embarrassed or ashamed to ask for help. Circumstances at work and in our personal lives affect our mental health and quality of life. There are many resources available to all of us through Employee Support Services, Employee Assistance Programs and our own personal network.”

On November 4 we wrote about the shocking  number of wildland firefighters who have taken their own lives. According to Nelda St. Clair of the Bureau of Land Management we lost 52 in a two-year period, 2015 to 2016.

Chief Mecham is right. Help is available.

The image below that we posted on Facebook is an abbreviated version of help sources that could be posted on bulletin boards or stuffed into employee mailboxes.

suicide sources for help

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, Bill Gabbert now writes about it from the Black Hills.

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One thought on “We lost another firefighter”

  1. my prays and thought go out to his family as elks we care about people going true these hard times god bless him.

    all fire fighters r never forgotten.

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