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A “kind-hearted” paramedic took his own life after being plagued by what he saw on the job.
Stevie James saved countless lives in a career spanning over two decades, but his friends say it was the lives he could not save that had taken a big toll on him.
The 43-year-old worked in the ambulance service in London and across the South of England.
He was described as the life and soul of the party, but privately he was suffering from depression, and on Thursday, December 15, he was found dead in his home in Southampton.
Friend and colleague Lianne Sekjer, who knew Stevie for over two decades, told MyLondon: “In the last few months I picked up on little things as we spoke, I could tell that the people he didn’t save and miscarriages he saw had a big effect on him.
“He was beating himself and as ambulance workers we’re supposed to just let that go and focus on those we did manage to help but I don’t think he was able to do that.”
Lianne said Stevie was passionate about helping people and during his career he also worked in a hospital and as a paramedic at big events such as Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park.
She added: “He saved so many women from domestic abuse and would always stay in contact to make sure they’re alright.
“He saved so many lives and also delivered so many babies, he loved what he did and he was incredible at it”.
When he was not working, Stevie was taking care of the many animals he had rescued, including a white owl, rats, mice, and even squirrels.
Lianne said: “He had so many friends in the ambulance service, he was so well loved.
“He had a great sense of humour, the life and soul of the party, and he was big softy.
“I don’t think many people would have realised he was depressed because he hid it well.
“The last time I saw him was a month ago, he was going to come work for me again as he had been working in a hospital for a short while and missed being on the front line helping people.
“We had a cup of coffee and he seemed excited about the future, to be back on the front line helping people.”
A 2015 study published in the British Medical Journal found that a disproportionate number of ambulance workers were committing suicide.
The risk of suicide amongst male paramedics was 75 per cent higher than the national average, with 42 being the mean age of those who died by suicide.
Lianne, who runs a private ambulance service that has contracts with many NHS Trusts, said she has lost 12 friends to suicide this year alone, and none were older than 43.
She said: “I don’t think people realise the impact this job can have on your mental health.
“It’s not just the trauma you see but the long hours, you have no social life when you work for an ambulance service.
“Then even when you’re off work you’re not really off because if you see anyone who is hurt you’re the first person to stop and help. That was true for Stevie, his life was his work.”
Stevie, who grew up in Liverpool, leaves behind a brother and two sisters who are devastated by his death.
His friends and family are fundraising for his funeral and you can donate here.
For confidential support call the Samaritans on 116 123 or visit a local Samaritans branch.
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