Denver medic's family says stress of job contributed to suicide

Self-harm might be most overlooked and under-addressed EMS occupational risk says former paramedic and professor

DENVER — Family members of medic Debbie Kiebel-Crawford, who died of suicide a few hours after responding to a fatal call, said the stress of the job became too much for her to bear, KUSA reports.

Kim Gorgens, a former paramedic and clinical psychology associate professor at Denver University, told KUSA that Crawford's death points to a wider problem with mental health issues among EMS providers.

"Really, EMS sees it all. It's the accumulation of that exposure to trauma that gets really wearing," Gorgens said. “…The most overlooked, the most under-addressed occupational risk of EMS work [might be] for self-harm."

“It’s a reality check,” Gorgens said, “that we’re failing an entire occupation.”

Dozens gathered Tuesday at a vigil outside Denver Health’s paramedic division to remember Crawford.

Crawford, a paramedic at Denver Health for more than 25 years, co-founded and chaired a committee recently formed by the Denver Health Paramedic Division to help fellow paramedics dealing with PTSD and mental illness caused by the job.

She died by suicide hours after responding to a fatal pedestrian vs. train incident.

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