HILLIARD, Ohio — Lieutenant Tom Bolin has been a firefighter with the Norwich Township Fire Department for 27 years. Decades of helping others has taken a toll on him.
In 2019, he took a gun and went to his basement with thoughts of taking his own life.
“My son almost found me in that moment. It is still very hard for me to talk about it,” Bolin said.
Bolin got the help he needed but says it was almost too late. He doesn't want that to happen to anyone else.
More firefighters died by suicide than in the line of duty each year from 2014-2019. According to a Forbes study, firefighters are 10 times more likely to attempt suicide than the general public.
“They never show the dark side of it,” Bolin said.
It's the part of the job we don't see. In our worst moments, firefighters are there. But who's there to help them?
Bolin kept his battle with anxiety, depression and PTSD hidden. Alcohol became a coping mechanism and it led him down “some very dark roads.” He suffered in silence for several years.
“It wasn't just drinking. It was the drinking to forget, the drinking to feel normal,” Bolin said.
Lieutenant Bolin now talks to firefighter recruits, and he created a Facebook page and website showing what options are out there for those suffering.
“I’m trying to really get the word out there to really normalize this when it comes to mental health and be able to sit around the table and talk about it,” Bolin said.
If you or someone you think is struggling, you can call 9-8-8, or go to Firefightersuicideprevention.org.
Additonal mental health resources
If you or someone you know is in a crisis or having thoughts of suicide, call the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988. The lifeline can also be reached at its former number 1-800-273-8255 or online at 988lifeline.org. You can also text HELLO to 741741 to reach the Crisis Text Line. A comprehensive list of suicide prevention resources can be found on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHSA) website.