tv Fault Lines Al Jazeera March 3, 2016 3:30pm-4:01pm EST
your mind. >> our experts go inside the innovations, impacting you. >> this is the first time anybody's done this. >> i really feel my life changing. >> techknow, where technology meets humanity. only on al jazeera america. 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. i mean obviously it died.
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 there.
>> these people have decided that today they will be arrested. >> i know that i'm being surveilled. >> people are not getting the care that they need. >> this is a crime against humanity. >> hands up... >> don't shoot. >> hands up... >> don't shoot. >> what do we want? >> justice. >> when do we want it? >> now. >> explosions going on... we're not quite sure - >> is that an i.e.d.?
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