Common Myths of Suicide in the Wildland Community; by Lisa Johnson, LCPC

Tragically, tens of thousands of Americans lose their lives to suicide every year, the statistics are alarming. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. More young adults aged 15-24 die by suicide than anything else with the exception of accidents. Every single day, the lives of 18 to 22 veterans are lost.  These numbers are startling, but there is hope, with education and outreach and especially a reduction in stigma, that barrier that prevents wildland firefighters for asking for help, these statistics can change.

This time of year, between spring and early summer is the time when we have the highest number of attempted suicides and completed suicides across America.  We don’t know why that is, there are several theories, one being that people are often faced with many challenges around the holidays and are able to muster through them with the expectation that things will get better in the Spring.  When life does not improve, people can lose hope. People who are suicidal are in so much pain, they can see no other option.  Suicide is often a taboo subject, people are uncomfortable discussing it and that leads to mistaken beliefs and myths surrounding suicide. Below are posted common myths about suicide

Myth: asking a wildland firefighter about his or her intention will encourage suicide or get the person to act on their intention.  The reality is that people report a huge relief when others have asked them in a caring and direct manner about how they are feeling and what their intentions are.  One of the reasons for completed suicides is that people feel isolated. Reaching out and showing you care is connecting.

Myth: wildland firefighters who talk about suicide won’t really take their life.  Almost every person who takes their life gives some warning sign, either verbal or nonverbal.  Saying things like, “you’ll miss me,” giving away possessions are indications that a wildland firefighter is serious about taking his/her life.  Pay attention to the warning signs of suicide.

Myth: If a wildland firefighter has made the decision to end their life, nothing can stop them. This is untrue, most suicidal people feel very conflicted between wanting to end the pain and wanting to live. This is where we can offer hope.

Myth: Wildland firefighters who die by completing suicide were unwilling to get help. More than 50% of people who take their lives had been to a doctor or other medical professional in the last six months of their lives. There is always possibility to intervene to save a life.

Myth: Wildland firefighters who take their lives are “crazy or weak.”  We know that most people who complete suicide are not insane or psychotic, most are suffering from depression, grief-stricken, or suffering from the sights, sounds, smells of traumatic events and are experiencing extreme emotional and/or physical pain.  Oftentimes, the suicidal person has been hanging on so long, they are exhausted emotionally.  It is a sign of strength to seek help.

Myth: There is no link between alcohol abuse, drug abuse and suicide. People who attempt and complete suicide are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.  Alcohol and drugs can lower a person’s inhibitions and increase their impulsivity.

As we increase our understanding of suicide, we increase the chances that we can help and offer hope. Suicide prevention, saving lives, starts with everyday interactions of compassion with the wildland firefighters we know and love.



Santa’s Helpers Needs Your Help

During the holiday season, our thoughts are drawn to the losses suffered in the Wildland community.  In 2012, we provided an extra helping hand to nearly 20 children who have lost a candycane_h200parent.  This year, we have many more that will use Santa’s Helpers.  Helping these smallest survivors have a Merry Christmas is our mission!

Have you ever thought about what you could do to make a difference in the live of a child?  A donation from you to our Santa’s Helper program means a brighter Christmas morning for a family that needs a little extra love and cheer.

We know there are a lot of requests this time of year for your donation – our request meets a very special need in the Wildland community.  Help us show how caring this community really is.  Send your donation today by donating online here  or mail your donation to 2049 Airport Way, Boise ID 83705.

WFF Cookbook Needs Your Recipe

Contribute your recipe(s) to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation’s Cookbook 2013! Type in your wildland firefighter’s favorite recipe, or contribute in memory of your fallen buddy too. WFF_News_200_GreyWe need more appetizers, soups, salads, breads, and I still don’t see ANY homebrew recipes in the THIS/THAT section.  To contribute a recipe to the cookbook, please send us an email at for the link, username and password.

Thanks For The Visit


Thank you to Peter Cecil for visiting with us the other day at the WFF!  And we also want to thank Diego Calderoni, pilot for the BLM Boise Smokejumpers, for the tour he gave Peter and I of the base today.  I want to go back again soon and watch those burly smokejumpers working on those sewing machines before fire season kicks off up here!

Mr. Cecil is an Australian Wildfire Instructor currently touring the States and on his way to Academy in Prescott, AZ.  We spoke about the 3 LODDs there this year and ways that Australia can continue working towards starting up a foundation there similar to the WFF.  I also learned today that they don’t have smokejumpers in Australia due to the types of fuels there, whereas a burning piece of bark can travel over 20km (12.4 miles) and ignite dangerous spot fires.  Thanks for learning this cowgirl today, mate!  Cheers and safe travels!

-Vicki and Amanda

2013 Family Fire – Save The Date

2013 Family Fire (always the 3rd weekend in May). This year it is May 17-19, 2013.7259858584_de368bc651

More information coming soon!

Some photos from last year.

Oak Grove Hotshot Reunion Donates To WFF

woody-woodpecker-patchWe just received a very generous donation from the to 2012 Oak Grove Hotshot Reunion which was held at the Supervisor’s Office of the Angeles Forest. Oakgrove Hotshots, your commitment to helping our wildland community is appreciated by those who help them here at the WFF and, most importantly, by those who benefit from our services — families, friends, and coworkers of our injured and fallen wildland firefighters.  Thank you Oakgrove!

Many Thanks To Contractors Campaign Contributors

WFF_News_200_GreyA big wonderful THANK YOU to the following contractors for their donations to the Contractors Campaign:

Houston’s Catering in Kanab, UT
S & K Transport in Darby, MT
LonAire Flying Service in Miles City, MT
Aero Tech LLC in Clovis, NM
and Caldwell Transportation in Idaho!

Thanks To All Who Donated To The Santa’s Helpers Fund

candycane_h200Many thanks to those that contributed to the Santa’s Helpers Fund! With your generosity, we have helped close to 20 kids this year. This helps bring a little light to the darkness of grief for these kids. Thank you for your help!

A Thank You From Union Hotshots

Today was a great day. We were able to give Krs Evans his new car. We were able to purchase a 2010 Honda Civic Coup LX. The car was in excellent shape (looked brand new) with a 7 year 100,000 mile warranty. Also was a “Honda Certified” used car so we can be assured Krs will get many worry-free years out of this car. In addition we had some money left over to pay his insurance for some time to come.

I must say this was one of the most fulfilling things I have been a part of. The fire community is a very generous group of professionals and to see us take care of one of our own is incredible. I can truly never express to all those who have helped how much this has meant to me. I just wish you all could have been there when Krs received his car.

I hope this is a start of more good things for other survivors. In the years to come I want to continue to help other survivors and continue to remember there are many that still need their fire community.

Thank you all very much.

Jody Prummer/Union IHC

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Brinkley Speaks At Retirement of DC3 plane (J-42) in Ogden, UT

We invite you to read the speech given October 24, 2012 by Joseph Brinkley, the triplet to Levi Brinkley (Storm King Mountain 1994), as it details how this aircraft transported the Storm King Mountain victims home.

Download: Speech_by_Joe_Brinkley_at_J42_retirement.pdf

Further information from the USFS



Montana School Donates To WFF

WFF_News_200_GreyA Letter from Mrs. Bills’ Class:

Dear Wildland Firefighter Foundation,

My fourth grade students would like to offer you this donation of $199.73 in honor of the firefighter’s currently in Bozeman, Montana, fighting the “Millie Fire” and for all firefighters who risk their lives every day. 
One of my students came up with the idea of supporting the firefighters in some way so our class sponsored 
“Firefighter Day” where students could dress up as a firefighter and bring a monetary donation to support your foundation. All the students in grades Kindergarten through Eighth grade participated in this endeavor. 
We even had the privilege of having some of the local and wildland firefighters visit our class and do an on-site field trip with us. The students had a wonderful time and learned a lot.
Thank you for all you do. We appreciate you!
Mrs. Bills’ 4th Grade Class

Rifle Peak Handcrew Visits

Rifle Peak Handcrew from the North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District pays the WFF a visit.