INDEPENDENCE, Mo. – The Independence Fire Department mourns the death of one of its own.
Fire Chief Doug Short announced Chad Sappenfield suffered from PTSD and took his life at his home. Sappenfield was a fire engine operator and paramedic with the Independence Fire Department for 13 years. Chief Short said Sappenfield’s family and the department hope his death will help raise awareness about mental health struggles.
“Chad committed his life to the service of his country and community. He served in the United States Army from 2003 to 2006, with a deployment to Iraq and then with the Independence Fire Department from 2008 to present as a Firefighter / Paramedic and Fire Equipment Operator. Throughout his career, Chad was exposed to many traumatic events first-hand. As with both veterans and first responders, this can lead to PTSD,” Chief Short said.
Chief Short said Sappenfield was getting treatment for PTSD at the time of his death.
“Chad had recognized and accepted over the past few years he was suffering from PTSD. Chad took appropriate steps to begin his treatment and became a strong advocate for both veterans’ groups and his Fire Service family to learn more about PTSD and encouraged them to not be afraid to seek help when they needed it. Unfortunately, while Chad was not able to fully overcome his illness, it is vital for everyone to understand it is important to seek help, seek treatment, and continue treatment. Just know, that PTSD is just like any other illness, sometimes we can’t overcome it, but never give up hope, and always work to persevere,” Chief Short said.
The Independence Fire Department will offer assistance to Sappenfield’s family. Funeral arraignments and memorials have not yet been announced, but will be provided when they are available.
Suicide Help Hotlines
If you are thinking of hurting or killing yourself, please call 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) or 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).
If you are struggling and need to talk to someone who understands, call 1-866-WARM-EAR or 913-281-2251.
If you need more information or a referral, please call Mental Health of America at 913-281-2221.
No matter your financial situation, there is help available. Please seek help if you or someone you know is suffering.
If you are having suicidal thoughts, we urge you to get help immediately.
Go to a hospital, call 911 or call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433).
Suicide Help Information Online
- SAMHSA’S National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
- Suicide Awareness Survivors Support of Missouri and Kansas
- Association of Community Mental Health Centers of Kansas
- American Psychiatric Association
- Partnership for Workplace Mental Health
- Chronic Illness – Resilience Building
- Mental Health Association of the Heartland
- National Center for the Prevention of Youth Suicide
- National Alliance on Mental Illness
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
- Veterans Crisis Line
- Youth Suicide Prevention Task Force of Kansas
- Children’s Mercy Division of Developmental and Behavioral Sciences