Research Analysis: More than 1-in-20 EMT deaths are due to suicide

study out of the University of Arizona College of Medicine was recently published online in Preshospital Emergency Care. The researchers looked at all deaths that occurred in Arizona, as well as the deaths of Arizona residents in another state or country, between 2009 and 2015. Of the 350,998 adult deaths recorded, all were categorized as either suicide or non-suicide via the listed ICD-10 code. The suicides were then further categorized by the deceased’s occupation, a free text field on the death record.

Occupations were split into two categories: EMTs or non-EMTs. Because most first responders are required to also be EMTs, all fire- and EMS-related occupations were included in the EMT cohort. The decision to include firefighters was also made, in part, due to the shifting landscape of firefighting in the United States and their increased presence on medically-oriented incidents.

There were 1,205 EMTs and 349,793 non-EMTs in the database. Death-by-suicide occurred in 5.2 percent of all deaths in the EMT cohort, and 2.2 percent in the non-EMT cohort. This resulted in a crude Mortality Odds Ratio(MOR) of 2.43 and, once this was adjusted for race, ethnicity, age and gender, the MOR dropped to 1.39.

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