On August 29, 2019, I, my wife Karen and our daughter Michele were interviewed by CBS evening news on the subject of the nationwide epidemic of Firefighter/First Responder suicides. Our son, William “Billy” Lewis, committed suicide on Feb. 14, 2016, after suffering from post traumatic stress fostered by a 20-plus year career of being a firefighter/paramedic.
Facts show many more first responders die from suicide rather than on the job deaths.
The purpose of this letter is not to seek sympathy or recognition for myself or my family but rather to speak directly to the first responders, their families or friends who may be reading this.
If you as a first responder are feeling overwhelmed by the job, thinking their lives are spinning out of control or feeling they cannot cope with the stress that goes with the job, please seek help in the form of counseling or another form of help.
Signs to look for are outbursts of anger, abusing alcohol, withdrawal from family and other normal social activities, difficulty managing finances, plus others. My family and I feel by sharing Billy’s story, as painful as it is, we may be able to help someone out there.