Strong, brave and traumatized: Upstate SC first responders often haunted by what they see
The Greenville News
April 1, 2019
James Kaiser loved being a paramedic.
It’s all he ever wanted to do.
At 49, he’d been helping people for nearly three decades, shocking a heart attack victim back to life or stanching the bleeding wounds of a teenager who crashed his car into a tree, and keeping them alive in the ambulance until they could reach the hospital.
Then one February night in 2016, after preparing a special meal for his family, he walked out into the front yard, put his gun to his head, and took his own life.
“He had not been diagnosed with PTSD,” his wife, Sheila Kaiser, told The Greenville News.
“But I know from living with him ... that he did suffer from it.”
Strong and courageous
James Kaiser is among an alarming number of first responders contemplating and dying by suicide.
Of 4,022 EMS staffers and firefighters responding to a 2015 survey, 37 percent had contemplated suicide and 6.6 percent had attempted to take their own lives, according to research published in the Journal of Emergency Medical Services.
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This may help explain the difference between civilians with PTSD and the responders who try to save their lives every day.
Grieving does not mean you are weak...it means you are human. While you are heroic, you are not superhuman and the way you may think things could have turned out differently, the events were not scripted and it was not a movie where the director allows the impossible to be possible.