A firefighter in Virginia was found dead after an apparent suicide this week. A note found near the body of the 32-year-old female suggested that the death was self-inflicted. An investigation into the circumstances surrounding her death found that she had been the target of cyberbullying by her fellow firefighters. The attacks were sexual in nature and fit a long-standing pattern of so-called "slut shaming" of women who chose to work as firefighters.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are around twice as many volunteer firefighters as paid career firefighters. The jobs are predominantly for local governments. The Cornell Institute for Women and Work reports that more than 96 percent of firefighters are male. That kind of disparity can easily give rise to the type of abuse and hostility found in this tragic situation.