Two Deputies' Suicides Leave Infant an Orphan

Florida deaths raise concerns about well-being of first responders
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 6, 2022 2:34 PM CST
Suicides of 2 Deputies Leave Their Infant an Orphan
Deputies Clayton Osteen and Victoria Pacheco of the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office.   (Police photos)

It's hard to fathom: Two young deputies in Florida committed suicide within days of each other, leaving their month-old infant an orphan, reports CBS News. Clayton Osteen, 24, and Victoria Pacheco, 23, worked for the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office. Osteen attempted suicide on New Year's Eve, and his family took him off life support on Jan. 2, according to a statement from Sheriff Ken Mascara. After his death, his partner Pacheco also took her own life. The two were parents of a 1-month-old son named Jayce, per People.

"To the general public, and sometimes even myself, it's easy to view law enforcement as superhuman," wrote Mascara, "but let's not forget that they're human just like us." He said he hoped the deaths might act as a "catalyst to help ease the stigma surrounding mental well-being and normalize the conversation about the challenges so many of us face on a regular basis." Osteen had been a deputy since 2019, and Pacheco since 2020, reports WPTV, which notes that both received commendations for saving the lives of people who overdosed on drugs. Osteen had been deputy of the year in 2020.

"It's devastating," retired police Officer Dana Bennett, who works at a helpline for first responders called COPLINE, tells the Florida TV station. "People don't understand what we take home with us." Officers struggling with mental health issues or contemplating suicide can call 1-800-COP-LINE. Others can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text STRENGTH to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741, or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org. (Read more suicide stories.)

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