Suicidal Ideation Common Among World Trade Center Responders

Depression, functional impairment, alcohol use problems, and lower family support ups risk

Suicidal Ideation Common Among World Trade Center Responders
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WEDNESDAY, May 11, 2022 (HealthDay News) -- Suicidal ideation (SI) is prevalent in World Trade Center (WTC) disaster responders, particularly nontraditional responders, according to a study published online in the June 1 issue of the Journal of Affective Disorders.

Rachel Gibson, from University of Hawaii at Hilo, and colleagues examined the prevalence and pre-, peri-, and postevent correlates of SI among a health monitoring cohort of 14,314 police responders and 16,389 nontraditional responders (e.g., construction workers) who engaged in response, recovery, and clean-up efforts following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The researchers found that 12.5 percent of nontraditional and 2.2 percent of police WTC responders reported SI. In both groups of responders, there was an association seen between depression, functional impairment, alcohol use problems, and lower family support while working at the WTC site with SI. Three symptoms accounted for approximately half of the variance in SI for both groups: feeling bad about oneself, or that one has let down oneself or family; feeling down, depressed, or hopeless; and sense of foreshortened future (44.7 percent in nontraditional responders and 71 percent in police).

"Something we've learned following the WTC attack is that random people coming in to help is not always a good idea," a coauthor said in a statement. "While we can never anticipate every kind of skill that might be needed at a disaster site, from a mental health perspective it is always better to send in trained people than untrained people."

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