Content warning: This article deals with some heavy mental health struggles.
At the beginning of this year, a tragedy occurred in Florida. A couple died just days apart by suicide. The young couple, two deputies for the Florida Sheriff’s department, leave behind their one-month-old baby boy.
Florida Couple Dies By Suicide Just Days Apart
Twenty-four-year-old Clayton Osteen and his partner Victoria Pacheco have tragically died by suicide just days apart from each other. Both Osteen and Pacheco were deputies for the Florida Sheriff’s department. Just one month prior, they had welcomed a baby boy, Jayce, into their little family. (1)
The tragedy began just before midnight on New Year’s Eve. Authorities received a call that Osteen had attempted suicide. An emergency response team arrived on the scene and rushed him to the hospital. The doctors did the best they could, but after two days of life support, they knew that there was no hope. Osteen’s family then made the heart-wrenching decision to take him off of life support.
This experience was the hardest for Pacheco. A brand-new mom trying to battle the grief of losing her partner while also adjusting to being a mom for the first time was too much. Just a few days after her partner passed, she also took her own life. The couple’s baby boy Jayce was now orphaned at just one-month-old.
A Couple Full Of Life
On the outside, things seemed to be going so well for the young couple. Osteen, who joined the sheriff’s department in 2019, won deputy of the year in 2020. His friends and family describe him as hilarious, fun, and a dedicated uncle, partner, and now father.
“Clayton was one hell of a funny guy, someone you could always count on in the time of need, and loved being an uncle,” his loved ones wrote in his obituary. “He absolutely adored his significant other and mother of his child. But of all his accomplishments, he was most proud of being a dad.”
A family member is officially adopting baby Jayce and will raise him in honor of his parents. The family and Sheriff’s department have set up a GoFundMe to help the families of the deceased pay for funeral costs as well as help Jayce’s new adoptive parents provide a good start in life for the young baby boy.
You Don’t Have to Struggle In Silence
The family still has no idea why or what caused Osteen to take such drastic measures. They described it as “completely out of character”. This is unfortunately all too common among suicide victims. Many people, particularly those in roles that expose them to the darker side of humanity like Osteen and Pacheco as deputies, fight internal battles and never talk to anyone else about them. St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken J. Mascara reminds us in a statement that it doesn’t need to be this way. (2)
“While it is impossible for us to fully comprehend the private circumstances leading up to this devastating loss, 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.”
It’s Okay To Not Be Okay
There is no shame in admitting that you are struggling with your mental health. There are no qualifying factors that make you “worthy” or “allowed” to struggle more or less than anyone else. It doesn’t matter what your life circumstances are – mental health struggles do not discriminate.
If you feel your mental health slipping, talk to someone -a trusted confidant, family member, or friend. You are not a burden and you don’t have to fake it or be “strong” on your own. In fact, the strongest, bravest thing you can do when you are struggling is to reach out and ask for help.
Whether you have someone in your life you can talk to or not, there are also plenty of professional resources that you can turn to for help. The Suicide Prevention Resource Center as well as the CDC have plenty of different tools and options for you to help you sort through your thoughts and feelings.
Whether you are in crisis or you just need to talk, there are several numbers you can call to speak with a trained mental health professional. These numbers are:
- Suicide Prevention Line: 1 (800) 273 TALK (8255)
- Crisis Text line: text HELLO to 741741
- Veteren’s Crisis line: 1-800-273-8255 press 1
If you know someone who is in crisis, you can also call these resources for them. Remember: You do not need to suffer in silence. There are people who care and want to help you get through these hard times. There is no shame and no stigma, so reach out. Help is waiting for you.
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