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Columbia County Observer

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Florida News

Two Marion County Fire Rescue Firefighters Dead to Suicide – Fire Chief Pleads That Folks Ask For and Get Help

Photo via IAFF | Columbia County Observer graphic

MARION COUNTY, FL – Marion County Fire and Rescue is mourning the loss of a second firefighter/paramedic to suicide in 20 days.

While some news outlets reported the tragic deaths of the Marion County Firefighters, it was clear that many news outlets, bending to the stigma of mental health crisis, did not mention the cause of death.

Chief James Banta spoke to members of his department, urging them to keep an eye on each other and reach out if they or someone else is struggling.

Firefighter Allen Singleton died January 29. He left behind his wife and two children.

On January 9, Marion FF/Paramedic Tripp Wooten died, also leaving behind a wife and two children.

Fire Chief James Banta
You can see Fire Chief Bantas video message here.

In a video message posted on the department's Facebook page, Chief James Banta said his department is "in pain, confused and upset..."

He said he is also suffering from the same emotions.

The Chief said if there were easy fixes, he would do them. But the issues run much deeper. 

"I need each of you to be my eyes and ears. I shoulder the burden of leading us out of this crisis, but I cannot do this alone," he said.

He urged the crews to be cognizant of their co-workers and watch for a change in demeanor. Chief Banta said, “Asking the tough questions is important.”

On Saturday, the International Association of Firefighters strike teams will arrive in Marion County to offer assistance. The IAFF strike teams are comprised of mental health experts.

The Chief urged his firefighters to take advantage of the strike team’s services and reach out.

FIREHOUSE.com and others were sources for this article.

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