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Secondary Traumatic Stress in Emergency Services Systems Project: Quantifying the Effect of Personal Trauma Profiles on Lifetime Prevalence of Suicidality in Emergency Medical Services Personnel

      Abstract

      Objective

      Within the last 20 years, there has been a 500% increase in public safety suicides, the exact cause of which is unknown.

      Methods

      This was a cross-sectional survey of emergency medical services (EMS) personnel. Nine EMS agencies were selected to participate based on geography and population. The survey assessed sociodemographic, occupational, and military factors. Childhood adversity and traumatic experiences were evaluated using the Adverse Childhood Experiences Questionnaire and the Life Events Checklist for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, respectively. Using factors significant in univariate analyses, a logistic regression was conducted to determine predictors of suicidality while controlling for potential confounders.

      Results

      A total of 681 EMS providers participated; 56.1% were male, 12.6% were minorities, and 72.8% were paramedics. Nearly a quarter (24.4%) had considered suicide. Approximately twice as many had received counseling for a stress-related event, and 1.5 times as many identified as currently in counseling. Indigenous populations were 4.76 times more likely to have suicidality (odds ratio [OR] = 4.76; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.22-18.62). Suicidality was 97% more likely in EMS professionals with prior military service (OR = 1.97; 95% CI, 1.08-3.57) and 2.22 times more likely in sexual minorities (OR = 2.22; 95% CI, 1.16-4.25). Emotional abuse (OR = 1.86; 95% CI, 1.08-3.21) and burnout (OR = 2.88; 95% CI, 1.78-4.66) were also predictive.

      Conclusions

      Suicidality is an indisputable concern for the EMS profession and represents a multifaceted issue that must be addressed.
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