Mental health resources for law enforcement are particularly important
Two Hillsborough County deputies have been found dead after a possible murder-suicide at a vacation rental home in St. Augustine.
TAMPA, Fla. – Two sheriff’s offices in Florida are dealing with the tragic loss of deputies within their agencies.
Over the past weekend, the bodies of two Hillsborough County deputies were discovered in a vacation rental home in St. Augustine, according to a news release from the sheriff’s office.
Preliminary information shows the two MPs, who were in a romantic relationship, were heard arguing in a bedroom by fellow MPs vacationing with them just before shots were fired, the statement said. Both were found fatally wounded by gunshot wounds. The sheriff’s office says it appears Detective Daniel Leyden died by suicide and was the only shooter.
The St. Johns Sheriff’s Office is investigating and declined to provide further details on the case Monday afternoon.
Earlier this month, a one-month-old baby of two St. Lucia County MPs lost both parents when they took their own lives within days of each other.
“My God, what a terrible year for Florida,” said Steven Hough, co-founder of FIRST HELPan organization dedicated to honoring first responders who have died by suicide and providing them with mental health resources to prevent tragedies.
According to Centers for the Control and Prevention of Disasters, police and firefighters are more likely to commit suicide than in the line of duty.
Hough believes agencies are trying but need to do even more to provide resources to deputies and officers earlier and more frequently and have an open line of communication with law enforcement families.
“More than anything else, we see that there are telltale signs that there were things wrong. Whether it’s guys showing up late to work, performance is no longer what she was, things we have to keep an eye on,” he said. noted.
Hough says the tragedies involving MPs from Hillsborough and MPs from Saint Lucia could have been avoided, and we need to do more as a society to offer help.
Peer support is a growing approach. Manuel Alejandro Guevara Ruiz is the veteran ambassador to Tampa Bay Crisis Center. He responds specifically to calls from veterans and first responders.
“We’re just a little different and we can talk to each other a little differently,” said Alejandro Guevara Ruiz, a veteran.
He also explained that mental illness can often intersect with other issues such as domestic violence.
“Maybe the root of the problem is all this vicarious trauma that we’ve been talking about that isn’t contained or addressed,” he said.
All of the mental health counselors we spoke with on Monday pushed a common theme – find the listening ear you need, or be the listening ear.
Longtime mental health counselor Natasha Pierre said:
“Recognizing that when someone tells you they’re feeling down, hopeless, or having a tough day, that’s not code for how amazing my life is.” This is usually the first step in a cry for help.”
Alejandro Guevara Ruiz put it this way:
“If you just let me talk and listen to myself and talk with me and understand what I’m trying to say, me, as a human, I’ll feel heard. I’ll feel supported. I’ll feel accompanied. I don’t I’ll feel more alone.”
NAMI Hillsborough offers many ways to get help if you’re struggling to deal with all the anxiety and uncertainty with support groups and classes.
You can reach the Tampa Bay Crisis Center by dialing 211, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.