London News & Search
A firefighter broke down in tears as he spoke about mental health, as figures show more than a quarter of emergency service workers have contemplated suicide.
Roger Moore, who served as a firefighter for 30 years in Coventry, began to suffer with post-traumatic stress disorder after he retired in 2013.
The 55-year-old urged others dealing with mental health issues “don’t suffer in silence” as he described struggling with horrific flashbacks of incidents he had attended during his career.
The former firefighter, who dealt with two serious plane crashes and numerous fatalities, said: “I was sitting with friends in the pub having a leisurely drink and from nowhere I just burst into tears, uncontrollable sobbing.
“A complete screen-show shot across the front of my eyes of nearly every dead person I had ever dealt with.”
In a frank video released by the Fire Fighters Charity to mark the organsation’s 74th anniversary, Mr Moore revealed that he, like 27 per cent of emergency service workers polled by mental health group Mind, had contemplated taking his own life.
Speaking in the emotion clip, Mr Moore’s wife Karen said she initially believed her husband was “bored or depressed” around a month into his retirement.
However, after contacting his GP, the former station commander and trauma instructor was diagnosed with PTSD.
Friends contacted his former employees who put him in touch with the charity who offered Mr Moore a week’s respite at Harcombe House in Devon.
During the course he was offered counselling and learnt exercises to deal with the emotions brought on by high-pitched noises including fire alarms.
Speaking about a member of the charity’s psychological support team, he said: “If she hadn’t been there I would definitely be self-harming now and there’s a reasonably good chance I would have committed suicide.
“The support the team at the Charity has given me and the way they helped me has been fantastic. They are all brilliant and help you to realise you can do a lot more than you think you can do. It’s up to me now.”
And, urging others to seek help, he added: “Don’t sit in silence, don’t sit alone, don’t see it as a weakness.”
The video comes in the months following the Grenfell Tower disaster which saw 80 people killed and dozens injured.
Dramatic images in which emerged in the aftermath of the blaze showed heartbroken fire crews in tears as they looked up at the charred husk of the west London tower block.
The Fire Fighters Charity Chief Executive, Dr Jill Tolfrey, added: “Everyday firefighting is dangerous, challenging and incredibly demanding of firefighters, both physically and psychologically.
“Incidents can impact people in different ways, some are affected immediately while others, like Roger, may not realise the impact of their work until after they retire.
“These are invisible injuries, often carried by firefighters in silence. However, they can have far reaching, long term consequences, affecting families and family life and, if ignored, potentially leading to depression, self-harm or even suicide.
“We are here to listen and to help people to recognise and to come to terms with these issues, providing them with the tools they need to help them manage their conditions for themselves.
Members of the public can support fire fighters by texting FIRE to 70660 to donate £5* or donating online at www.firefighterscharity.org.uk/roger.
London News & Search