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Florida sheriff hopes suicides of 2 deputies is ‘catalyst for change’

St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken J. Mascara said words can't express the loss after the deputies died days apart.
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A Florida sheriff is calling for an end to the stigma surrounding mental health after two deputies who shared a one-month-old son killed themselves.

St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Deputy Clayton Osteen was taken off life support Sunday after an attempted suicide on New Year’s Eve, Sheriff Ken J. Mascara said in a statement Tuesday.

Deputy Victoria Pacheco took her life in the wake of Osteen's death, Mascara said.

“We pray that this tragedy becomes a catalyst for change, 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,” Mascara said in the statement.

“Words cannot express the tremendous loss we all feel,” he said.

More details were not released, and the sheriff’s office asked for prayers and privacy for those involved.

Studies have shown that first responders are at an elevated risk of suicide, according to a 2020 Congressional Research Service report. Federal researchers say suicide among first responders is likely underreported.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text HOME to 741741 or visit SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional resources.