NASHUA, N.H. – When Nashua police Capt. Jonathan Lehto was reported dead on Monday while on a trip to the West Coast, the cause of his death remained out of the headlines.
On Thursday, we learned that Lehto’s tragic death has been ruled a suicide. He had been visiting family in Seattle when he died.
He was 47-years old.
Police in Nashua, New Hampshire are mourning the loss of their brother. Chief Michael Carignan issued a sorrowful statement about his lead detective.
The statement, which was published by the Boston Herald, says that his own department had no idea that he was struggling the way he was.
“None of us picked up on the signs,” Carignan told the Herald on Thursday. “Most people say, ‘OK, we’ll keep it quiet.’ But it was important to me to put out the message that Jonathan Lehto would be remembered for how much he touched people. And it’s important to me to get the message out that what you’re going through is normal, and there are people to talk to. There’s no stigma, no career implications for asking for help.”
Carignan wanted to use Lehto’s tragic passing as an example of the fact that members of the blue are hurting… and something needs to be done.
“The Nashua Police Department and Jon’s family acknowledge that suicide amongst law enforcement and other first responders is an epidemic. Jon’s suicide forced us to face the fact that we are not immune to this reality. We are committed to being vocal in an effort to bring attention to and make others aware of this crisis. Jon spent his career helping people. We are hopeful that by not remaining silent about Jon’s death by suicide, we can honor who he truly was and encourage others to reach out for help.”
The Herald wrote that officer suicide is absolutely an issue in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. ‘At least 10 police officers killed themselves in 2016, eight each in 2017 and 2018, and two so far this year, according to Blue HELP’, the article noted.
Reports estimated that nearly 150 officers have taken their own lives this year.
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Psychologist Miriam Heyman says we need to get rid of the stigma behind talking about mental illness.
“Mental health treatment is effective, but we live in a world that stigmatizes mental illness,” she said. “So there is silence around the issue, and that prevents first responders from accessing the help they need. They should know they’re not alone. And their leadership needs to take a more proactive approach.”
Former Boston Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis says that it’s a nationwide issue and needs special attention.
“The numbers tell the story, and it’s not being addressed quickly enough,” Davis said. “But we’re finding now, because this is such a huge problem with police and the military, that letting people know… may lift that cloak.”
Right after the news that Captain Lehto’s had taken his own life, we learned of another retired NYPD sergeant who lost his own battle with his demons.
Police in the town of Goshen, New York are sad to report the death of retired NYPD sergeant Jose “Joey” Pabon after they discovered he had taken his own life on Wednesday.
The New York Post reported that Pabon has become the latest member of the NYPD to commit suicide this year, bringing the number to a staggering 11 LEO’s lost to their own hand.
What usually amounts to an average of four or five officers killed by suicide each year has more than doubled… and the year is far from over.
The iconic city department has been blindsided by a massive increase of officers, both active duty and retired, who have taken their own lives since the beginning of the year. In 2019, nine active duty officers from the NYPD have committed suicide, along with two retired LEO’s.
Goshen Police say they were called to the scene of Pabon’s upstate New York home in Orange County on Wednesday just after midnight. Emergency crews found Pabon’s lifeless body with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
Authorities say that Pabon had worked for the Interval Affairs Bureau of the NYPD and had retired from the job about four years ago.
Former NYPD Sergeant Found Dead in the Hudson Valley https://t.co/J5BgmZsKfz
— Hudson Valley Post (@hudsonvalleypst) September 13, 2019
Police say that his wife discovered the body, and that the retired sergeant did not leave a suicide note.
Pabon reportedly signed on with the New York City force back in 1993, serving for approximately 12 years. He was just 49-years-old at the time of his death, sources said.
The string of suicides has forced New York City agency heads into full panic mode, stressing the importance of visiting mental health professionals or speaking with police chaplains or the different resources the department is trying to provide for those who are hurting.
Another retired sergeant from the NYPD took his life just over a week ago, on September 3.