Two Florida Deputies Both Commit Suicide, Leave Behind 1-Month-Old Son
Couple takes own lives for 'reasons unknown'
A Florida sheriff's deputy took his own life "for reasons completely unknown," setting off a tragic chain of events that saw his partner commit suicide just days later.
The couple leaves behind a six-week-old baby son.
Lucie Sheriff’s Office Deputy Clayton Osteen attempted suicide on New Year's eve but survived after being rushed to hospital.
Clayton was placed on life support before his family made the difficult decision to take him off it.
Just days after Osteen's suicide, his partner and colleague, Victoria Pacheco, 23, also took her own life.
A GoFundMe page was later launched for the couple's orphaned son, which read:
"Tragically, for reasons completely unknown and totally out of character, Clayton took his own life December 31st, 2021."
St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken Mascara released a statement following the suicides:
“Today, the members of the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office carry the burden of a very heavy heart as we share with you the tragic passing of two of our deputies: Deputy Clayton Osteen and Deputy Victoria Pacheco."
“On New Year’s Eve, shortly before midnight, our agency responded to a call where we learned that Deputy Osteen, who was off duty at the time, attempted to take his own life."
"On Sunday, January 2, Deputy Osteen’s family made the very difficult decision to remove him from life support.”
“This morning we learned that Deputy Pacheco, who shared a one-month-old son with Deputy Osteen, took her own life in the wake of Deputy Osteen’s death,” he continued.
“Words cannot express the tremendous loss we all feel after losing these two members of our Sheriff’s Office family.
"As sheriff, I saw these two deputies as young, ambitious, and a great compliment to my already amazing group of professionals.
"To the general public, and sometimes even myself, it’s easy to view law enforcement as superhuman … but let’s not forget that they’re human just like us.”
Both Osteen and Pacheco have served on the police force since November 2019 and February 2020, respectively.
"The grief is deep and painful," Ridle wrote on Facebook.
"Parents shouldn’t have to bury their children. Brothers and best friends should be called upon for support.
"Babies should grow up surrounded by the love of their parents."
"But know my friends, despite this horrendous situation, I’ve witnessed more grace, love, compassion, answered prayers, and even what feels like a few miracles this week than I could imagine even existed among those left behind.
"We are forever bonded to one another and Jayce," Ridel added.
Meanwhile, friends have been sharing memories and photos on Facebook:
"A true brother lost his internal battle," Ray Tourville wrote of Osteen on Facebook.
"I struggle with finding the words to write that even remotely does him justice.
"I’m incredibly sorry that you felt this was your only option."
The suicides prompted Sheriff Ken Mascara to call for an end to mental health stigma.
“We pray that this tragedy becomes a catalyst for change, a catalyst to help erase the stigma surrounding mental well-being and normalize the conversation about the challenges so many of us face on a regular basis."
According to the 2020 Congressional Research Service report, studies show first responders are at an elevated risk of suicide.