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Family says EMS job stress contributed to suicide

Debbie Kibel-Crawford took her own life this past weekend, when the stress of the job became too much to bear.
Debbie Kibel-Crawford took her own life this past weekend, when the stress of the job became too much to bear.

KUSA - Debbie Kibel-Crawford took her own life this past weekend, when the stress of the job became too much to bear.

Kibel-Crawford had been a paramedic at Denver Health for more than 25 years.

What is perhaps the most ironic and tragic about all of this is that most recently, she served as the chair of a committee aimed at preventing tragedies like this among team members.

Experts say this may be an indicator of a wider problem within mental health.

"Really, EMS sees it all. It's the accumulation of that exposure to trauma that gets really wearing," Kim Gorgens said, a former paramedic and now clinical associate professor at Denver University.

"This might be the most overlooked, the most under addressed occupational risk of EMS work, is for self-harm," Gorgens said.

Gorgens said the industry must do better to recognize, and treat those who are suffering.

"It's a real reality check that we're failing an entire occupation," she said.

Tuesday, dozens gathered at a vigil outside Denver Health's paramedic division to say goodbye to their colleague of more than 25 years.

(KUSA-TV © 2015 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)