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Woman who lost husband to suicide raises awareness about mental health for first responders

Published: Sep. 15, 2021 at 6:41 PM CDT
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ENDEAVOR, Wis. (WMTV) - The job of first responders is to take care of others but when it comes to mental health, taking care of themselves may not always be top of mind. A Marquette County woman is raising awareness about suicide prevention after losing her husband to suicide.

Dian Pinney and her husband Mathew spend 30 years together. “He loved the outdoors and most of all he loved his family. We adopted two beautiful girls in 2010 and we just had a great time together,” said Dian.

On January 19, 2021, Dian’s husband took his life. “When I got home from work, I went around and looked for him and unfortunately I found him.”

“Mathew committed suicide. Gunshot wound,” said Dian.

Mathew Pinney was a volunteer firefighter for the Endeavor/Moundville Fire Department with 30 years of experience.

He dedicated his life to helping others on and off the clock but when it came to helping himself, Dian says her husband struggled.

“He was having troubles with depression. 6 months before he passed away, I had a conversation with him and said I’m really worried about you, I’m afraid you’re going to hurt yourself, and he assured me, no no no, don’t worry about that,” she said.

Dian says sometimes when a loved one is struggling with mental health, the signs can be difficult to read or understand. She also points to the stigma surrounding mental health as a huge factor.

“For Mathew, he didn’t want anyone to know he was having mental health problems. Anytime I would reach out to a minister or his friend, it would embarrass him. I offered to go to the doctor with him and he just wouldn’t do it,” said Dian.

She now hopes sharing Mathew’s story helps someone else who is struggling, especially other first responders.

“If they’re feeling sad, down, depressed, reach out and talk to their chiefs, bosses, their wives. Call the doctor. To get help, because it’s not such a bad thing to get help,” said Dian.

Michael Bourdeau, Fire Chief in Endeavor says Mathew was an amazing firefighter. The Endeavor Moundville Fire Department is a volunteer department and Bourdeau says Mathew was a valued member of the team.

“He was a super reliable guy and we all liked having him here,” said Bourdeau.

Chief Bourdeau says Mathew is one of three first responders he knows to take their life in the last year. He says a brighter light needs to be shined on the mental health of first responders given the nature of the job. “A lot of the signs weren’t there. They weren’t very open about their feelings,” said Bourdeau.

He encourages those struggling to reach out for help and use any resource available to them.

Back in April. Gov. Tony Evers signed Senate Bill 11 into law allowing public safety officers diagnosed with PTSD to receive workers compensation benefits under some circumstances. That legislation does not apply to volunteer first responders because they are technically not employees. Bourdeau says it should.

September is National Suicide Prevention month. If you or someone you know is struggling and needs help call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or you can text “hopeline” to 741741.

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