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Florida firefighter takes own life after writing about PTSD

Chief David Dangerfield. Photo: GoFundMe

Chief David Dangerfield. Photo: GoFundMe

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY, Fla. — A Florida man who served as a firefighter for almost 30 years died Saturday of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, TCPalm.com reported.

The man, Indian River County Fire Rescue Battalion Chief David Dangerfield, had written on Facebook about post-traumatic stress disorder shortly before his death.

“PTSD for Firefighters is real,” he wrote. “If your love one is experiencing signs get them help quickly. 27 years of deaths and babies dying in your hands is a memory that you will never get rid off. It haunted me daily until now. My love to my crews. Be safe take care. I love you all.”

Dangerfield told dispatch where authorities could find him. When deputies arrived, he was already dead.

His post highlights the toll it takes on firefighters — and others in similar lines of work — to deal with horror and tragedy so often.

David Dangerfield’s father, Bruce Dangerfield, told WPTV his son had been diagnosed with PTSD and had been seeing a doctor a few times a week for a year and a half.

People can get PTSD after a traumatic event, causing them to suffer from flashbacks of the experience, increased anxiety and trouble sleeping, among other symptoms.

About 20 percent of firefighters and paramedics suffer from PTSD, according to the Journal of Occupational Health.

Someone suffering from PTSD has an increased risk of attempting suicide, according to a Florida State University study. More than 80 percent of firefighters surveyed in the study have either thought about suicide, planned suicide or attempted suicide.

If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit afsp.org.

David Dangerfield experienced a lot throughout his decades of service and was held in high regard by his fellow firefighters and community members.

The Treasure Coast Fire Chiefs’ Association named him Emergency Service Provider of the Year in 2013. In addition to his job as battalion chief, he helped train  dive rescue teams across the country, has been deployed to fight wildfires in Colorado and taught at the local fire academy.

Dangerfield also founded a cook-off charity fundraiser and worked with a local organization to bring Thanksgiving Day meals to those in need.

He was a father of two sons, according to a GoFundMe page started to raise money for his funeral expenses and provide for his sons.