Suicides up among firefighters - KCTV5 News

Suicides up among firefighters

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Nico Cruz Nico Cruz

Suicides are up among fire departments across the country, and the Kansas City Fire Department is launching an effort to help troubled employees.

This comes as a veteran firefighter was laid to rest on Saturday.

Nicholas "Nico" Cruz served 23 years with the Kansas City Fire Department. He was expected to retire in three years until he took his own life on July 27.

"It is the most painful thing," his oldest daughter, Catalina Cruz, said.

Cruz is survived by his four children. He had just become a new grandfather.

But the tough situations he dealt with on the job took their toll. And his wife committed suicide a year ago.

Still his family was stunned.

"No one would have suspected this. He had a good heart. He loved helping people," Cruz said. "He was a fireman."

His cousin, Desmond McIntyre, is also a firefighter, and he said the job can be quite stressful.

"We learn how to cope. We learn how to deal, and the tough exterior we are expected to have is just expected," he said.

A website that tracks suicides by firefighters found more than 60 took their lives in each of the past two years. Already, 40 have died this year.

In the past 10 years, several Kansas City firefighters have committed suicide.

And suicides can also spike after a firefighter retires.

"Seeing how much this can hurt people and can really, really tear them apart, I would never want to do this to someone," Cruz said.

McIntyre and fire officials say it is important to talk about issues and seek help while also looking for signs in others. 

The department is starting a new suicide prevention program called ACT. The program emphasizes ask someone how they are feeling, care enough to do something and take them to get professional help.

Cruz said she regrets not doing more for her father and is speaking out in hopes of helping others.

For more information on Nico Cruz, click here. 

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