tv Fault Lines Al Jazeera February 24, 2016 3:30am-4:01am EST
after the mother showed potential life-threatening signs. a doctor was used for the operation not a vet. you can read about all these stories on aljazeera.com firefighters in the u.s. are more liabilities to die by suicide than by fighting fires. in 2015 alone more than 80 firefighters killed themselves. but the numbers could be higher because most fire departments to not track suicides. it is a subject that's rarely talked about in the fire service. >> the average person can't
imagine the crap that we see out there. we take care of everybody but we also see the worst of the worst out there in the world and you do that day in and day out. firefighters kill themselves in record number these days. it's just kind of a dirty secret of the profession . going to talk some more about my experience -- >> while reporting this story we came across videos of tim casey a former firefighter paramedic, talking about his problems with stress on the job. >> i was overloaded on the job. the things i saw, i was depressed, i was drinking too much. when we do something, we do it really good, we drink really hard, we party really hard and we became a danger to ourselves and suicidal we're generally pretty good at suicide as well,
sad to say. >> we planned to meet him at his home last august but three weeks before our interview, tim killed himself. teresa evans was tim's fiancee. on july 31st, 2015 she came to his house and smelled something coming from the garage. >> he was sitting in this chair. and the chair was all the way reclined for some reason. it was all the way back. my first thought was just okay, open the garage door.then i went around and opened all the car doors to get the monoxide out. >> was the car filled with -- >> it was horrible in here. i called 911 after that. the best thing i thought was to
get the carbon monoxide out. it was just a matter of seconds. he was still breathing. i was like tim tim tim tim, oh my god tim, and he's going like this, he's not breathing okay. i hear the fire trucks coming i think he's going to be all right because he's still breathing. >> tim was 57 years old. they had been dating for six years. >> there's us on our first anniversary. >> he proposed to teresa a week before he killed killed himself. >> i'll never forget the sight of them tearing him out of that car and laying him on the grass. it looked like he was dead already, you know. >> did they know him? >> they all knew him. the fire chief said he started out with tim. we're walking down the hall and i think i'm going to see the
unconscious tim, working with him. he grabs my arm, says prepare for bad. i said what do you mean? he said prepare for bad. i said what do you mean? he grabbed my arm, i guess, he didn't know whether i would pass out or what, they just called tim. it was the most horrifying thing. i'm not feeling sorry for myself. i'm just saying when you kill yourself, you might as well take an automatic weapon and shoot. that loves you. everybody that loves you. >> you got to see tim after? >> yes. >> what was that like? >> i thought, oh know, but when he sees me he'll come back to life. he was kind of warm. i touched him, i kissed him a
couple of times on his hair. and his body just got colder and colder. >> oh, here's the gig, it's like people think as a paramedic, you know, it's just like a job that you do. you just show up and you do the job. and -- >> tim began posting videos online in 2014. he wanted to reach out to other firefighters dealing with trauma and depression and to unload his memories of the job. >> today i wanted to talk about the buildup towards suicide. i had been on a string of what we like to call in the fire service, confirmed kills. and i was as you say euphemistically, i was killing everybody that i was treating. we laugh about it, we joke about it and that relieves some of the stress but in truth that was wearing on me.
it's like god we watch so many people die firsthand flays and firsthand anyways, and they just die and die and die on you and your crew rags and rags and rags on you, it can build up. >> he was suffering. >> eric miller was one of tim's closest friends. they often responded to calls together. they were in work together for 32 years, over that time, the nature of firefighting changed. over 30% much the calls are medical an those can be as traumatizing for firefighters. >> a man called himself at 44,
on 44th birthday, at 4:40 in the afternoon, by shooting himself in the head. apparently his father had done the same thing at 44. >> calls like these can be seared into a firefighters memory for weeks and sometimes years. >> parents discovering children, 15-year-old hung themselves, and when the mom and dad got home they immediately saw -- >> you come back here how do you deal with it? >> you don't. you're on to the next run because there's always one more call. we don't get the same time off. you don't get to say, oh i'm sorry, i don't want to go to the next one this was a really crappy day, crappy call for me. they see things on television, the disasters just recently the family shootings all of these things. and any time there's one of those incidents lap anywhere in the world, there's a
firefighter incidents that happen anywhere in the world, that hidden element that's involved in win of these that ha has to deal with the aftermath of somebody else's choices. >> people think we're just paramedics. oh, that we can just like fix everything. >> this is probably the most haunting video of them all, of the ones i've seen. >> i remember i showed up one time, a mother had backed over accidentally, she'd backed over the head of her baby. toddler. you know, kind of crawling. and squished its brain out and we showed up on the fire engine and she hand me ed me a baby wih its brain coming out and the baby was still breathing and said save my baby. and i didn't save the babe.
despond ancy that's there. i wish i could have help my friend. >> rat tim's memorial service it was easy to see his work was the center of his life. his firefighters and coaz workers came ou co-workerscame out in full forcy good-bye. >> metro has lost two to three firefighters around recently, in the last six months, denver lost a firefighter paramedic to suicide. tim was all about this issue, tim was this is what i'm suffering, if you are suffering this, please reach out.
>> ian mcconvene was jusqueen wf firefighter tim considered reaching out to. when he was 33 he considered committing suicide. >> i'd sit in my truck, in the driveway, gun in hand in tears just begging for a reason to do it. it was never this thing of i want to kill myself. had nothing to do with that. it had everything to do with, i don't know how to win this fight, i don't know what to do but i know how to end this fight. >> after four years as a firefighter, ian was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. after going on a call of a teenage are. >> i'm not getting any sleep, and when i'm home i'm pounding beers in hopes of getting a little sleep.
>> at the time, ian didn't feel comfortable talking about his trauma at the fire station. he got help outside much work a few weeks after the trauma. >> if i'm going to unload some pretty dark, pretty heavy, pretty deep stuff, than to call someone that i've met a few times that i know a little bit about but i know that they know everybody around me a whole lot better. so it's like that really didn't seem like a safe place to go. i understand that's what it is but at the time it didn't feel like it to me. >> one day he realized how difficult it was to talk about his problem after responding to the shooting of two police officers. >> we're bringing two of the police officers in with a pretty serious gunshot wound, got to the hospital transferring over patient care, i remember thinking, i wish i could trade you position he, i know how to
treat a gunshot wound and in my mind it would have been easier to be in that position and have a gunshot and say oh great this is causing me pain, let's deal with it, instead of the stuff causing my pane that i had no idea how to deal with or even begin to address. >> we'll find out. >> you may be getting killed? >> that's us. >> you got to go. >> do a good job. >> sounds like rhonda will still be here. bit. >> all right, go do your run, good luck. >> i'm leaps and bounds further in the recovery process than i was seven months ago. i still have a long way to go but i've now been through my personal treatment and counseling session is and stuff that i went through. i'm not 100% yet but i'm getting
>> on january 22nd, 2014, a fighterrer named mike mouser landing himself in clarksville, tennessee. he was 44 years old. he was a firefighter for over ten years. >> how did you hear it happen? >> i was sitting in the bedroom with my laptop. i heard eric come in as he does every day. he said your cousin's here, i said,
someone died cam i was my dad. he killed himself. yes. i sat down on the floor and i was crying and i said daddy, what did you do? >> mike was more than 81 fivers who killed themselves that year. >> i think that there was an element of ptsd for him because he would wake up about every four hours at night, every two to four hours at night and pace the house and check on everything and then go back to bed. and i think he'd seen things in fires like families getting burned up. and applied that to what if that happened to my family? >> could you have known what was going to happen with your father? >> no. what got him in the end was what none of us could see. he concealed, you know, a lot of emotion and he was a giant. people around him -- people around here call him a legend.
and he just held it inside instead of letting anybody in. >> mike was well-known among firefighters here. he used to strain them all across kentucky including members of this firehouse in crescent springs. they invited us to attend one of their regular training sessions. >> firefighting is a dangerous job. we get into places all the time, things happen. some of them are expected and some of them are unexpected. the unexpected stuff is the trouble. what are some of the unexpected things that can happen in a structure while we're firefighting? >> collapse. >> collapse. what's another one? >> entanglement. >> entanglement. >> getting lost. >> getting lost. >> these sorts of training sessions are an important part
of the job. during their careers firefighters will spend thousands of hours learning how to best fight fires and save lives. >> there are certain common things in most house fires that you can expect. >> it's interesting to attend a class where you're talking about saving lives in a fire. but when you are more likely to lose a firefighter in a suicide, rather than a collapse like this, would you spend time trying to save that firefighter? >> yes, i think i would. that is a growing information base that we're getting. >> i'm curious how many training do you guys do to teach people what signs to look for in themselves for dealing with stress? >> formal training, probably not very much. i don't know that we ever identified suicide. i think we identified just general depression, and things like that.
>> as a firefighter, i think probably spief% of u 75% of us g to admit the fact that i'm depressed. >> are any of us going to sit in the firehouse and cry out to your buddy, no you don't do it. >> everyone in this job says we know everything we think everything. but in this industry you -- >> you are worried about what the perception is going to be. >> you don't want that oh he's weak or whatever. i'm not saying these guys are that but the industry as a whole that's the mentality. mike mouser was one of the ones you nerve would have guessed, he gave this persona. i'm a firearm, this is me. -- ien i'm a fireman. this is what i do. hammer hammer hammer.
>> by putting him on that pedestal, my guess is that he didn't, you know, want anybody to think that there was something wrong. >> mike was one of the most, to me, well adjusted, normal, nothing that was dark, i don't know how many years i knew mike but it was -- that was a complete shock. ♪ >> as more firefighters take their lives, the question is how can it be stopped? psychologists say talking can be the key to reducing the number of suicides in the fire service. they say having firefighters turn to each other for help, is the most effective way to address their mental health. but very few fire departments offer peer counseling programs.
the fire service has no central decision making body so it's up to thousands of individual fire commissioner and chiefs to make any changes. these chiefs often rely on the u.s. fire administration for recommendations. it is the federal government agency in charge of fire education research and training. its website last information on cancer, sleep dep deprivation and exercise but very little on suicide. while it has no enforcement capacity, it has influence, it makes the recommendations on safety and tracks the number of firefighters killed on the job but not those who have killed themselves. tom o'shansky is a spokesman from the u.s. fire service.
we spoke to him for an interview, when we spoke to him on the phone, he said he had nothing to say on suicide. he became angry, he said you can call me a jack ase ass in your piece and he declined to talk to us on camera. >> you put this uniform on this is how you're supposed to act. strong, brave, don't ask for help, that's a sign of weakness, i don't want to be the weak link of the company. i can handle my problems on my own. >> the job of tracking the suicides of firefighters has fallen to one man, jeff dill, the only one collecting data. the number of firefighters committing suicide has grown every year for the past five years.
jeff dill's workshops across the u.s., he says there should be more emphasis on mental health when training them. >> what are we missing in our fire academies? that's behavioral health. i'd love to see that put into the curriculum on every state fire marshals, that say you know what, we're going to talk about anxiety and depression, when you get in this business, there is a high probability that you will suffer. >> jeff says any change has to start with the culture of the fire service spivment. >> i itself. >> if i'm a battalion chief, and i say you have to take that duseldorf up there your severely. you can't handle that yourself. how are you to deal with suicidal ideations?
you have to ask for help, absolutely have to. >> in the fire service there's just not a stigma about asking for help but about suicide itself. national memorials for firefighters like this one don't honor those who commit suicide. their names are not included. we met tim casey's brother sean aat a memorial for firefighters across town from tim's home in colorado springs. >> this has to be bigger, there are a whole lot of firefighters that gave their unconditionally. until they died. all of a sudden, when they die, their death is conditional on how they will be remembered. >> here is 2015, over 80 firemen have taken their own lives this year. how many names are here? >> twaif maybe prospect. >> those names are not included
on this list. >> why? why? it would be nice to know that his name was down here. just because it deserves to be here. who's going to argue with me that it doesn't? i'd like to have that argument. just because he retired didn't mean all those memories and all those horror pictures that play over and over again in his mind stop the day he retired. they didn't. that's what ultimately drove him to take his own life. >> if we admit a weakness ourselves then we become suspect and then we're weak and people don't want to work with us and they're going to talk about us behind our back, so committing suicide is a lot easier quite frankly, it's easier to commit suicide.
if you are drinking too much, and suicide's on your mind, talk to somebody else. anyways, go ahead and e-mail me and i'll keep doing videos about this. be well brothers and sisters and take care of yourself. thank you. >> are miners across this region affected by the dodd-frank law? >> sourced from illegal mines. >> this is a serious problem. >> an undercover investigation reveals the real cost. >> there's no way of knowing what minerals are coming in. >> "faultlines". >> what do we want? >> al jazeera america's hard-hitting... >> today they will be arrested. >> ground-breaking... >> they're firing canisters of gas at us. >> emmy award-winning, investigative series.
>> thank you very much everybody. thank you. thank you very much more momentum for donald trump's u.s. presidential bid as he celebrates a big win in l.a. you're watching al jazeera live from our headquarters in doha. also coming up, obama gears up for a fight to push through the closure of guatemalan prisons. we give you a story on the white helmets