Los Angeles Times

Firefighter suicides reflect toll of longer fire seasons, increased stress

LOS ANGELES - Capt. Ryan Mitchell had just finished three punishing weeks of firefighting. He had deployed to fires far from home, then returned only to dash out to another one.

Mitchell's parents and 16-month-old son came to visit him at the station.

"He didn't look good. He was tired, he was thin, his eyes were shallow. He wasn't his usual self," Mitchell's father, Will, recalled.

Two days later, Mitchell reported to Cal Fire's San Diego unit headquarters in El Cajon for his regular 72-hour shift.

After he finished, on Nov. 5, 2017, he drove east to the Pine Valley Creek Bridge, among the highest in the U.S.

He parked his car, walked to the edge of the bridge and jumped.

Mitchell, 35, was one of at least 115 firefighters and emergency medical service workers in the U.S. who committed suicide in 2017, according to data compiled by the Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance, which tracks such figures nationwide.

The figure, likely an undercount,

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