HENDERSON, Nev. (KLAS) — A line-of-duty death memorial ceremony has been planned for 35-year-old Henderson firefighter and paramedic Robbie James Pettingill on Friday, Oct. 4. The fire department said Pettingill suffered from job-related PTSD and took his own life in September.
“Robbie was an exceptional firefighter who loved the job and was well-liked by his colleagues throughout the department,” said Fire Chief Shawn White in a press release. White expressed firefighters are often more vulnerable to suicidal thoughts as they frequently traumatic and stressful situations that leave them feeling helpless.
A study out of the Ruderman family Foundation found first responders are more likely to die by suicide than in the line of duty. The foundation reported at least 103 firefighter suicides were reported and another 140 were reported for police officers in 2017.
Pettingill had firefighting in his blood; his father, Scott, served with the Henderson Fire department for 22 years until his retirement in 2012. Robbie had been with the department since 2006.
A motorcade procession led by Henderson Fire and Police will begin at 1:45 p.m. Family members and representatives from other EMS departments will take part, as well. A celebration of Pettingill’s life at Central Christian Church will follow the procession at 2:30 p.m. and is open to members of the public who wish to pay their respects.
Today marks the end of Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and the community is urged to offer support to anyone who may be suffering from PTSD or other mental disorders.
“Our hearts go out to the Pettingill family, and we urge anyone who is contemplating taking their own life to reach out to family, friends of community resources for help,” said White.
The following are important resources to remember for both the public and members of the first responder community:
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
- Fire/EMS Helpline: 1-888-731-FIRE (3473)
- CopLine: 1-800-267-5463