With the recent spike in suicides within the NYPD I’ve decided to get outside of my comfort zone and share my story in hopes of saving someone.
The NYPD has lost a staggering 11 officers this year alone from suicide, including two in the last few weeks. I hope someone struggling will read this, reconsider, think about their family, and get some help.
YOU are not alone. WE are here to help you.
My father shot himself on Tuesday, March 12, 2013. He was a 24-year veteran of the East Hartford Police Department. He was even named Police Officer of the Year in 2008. Highly decorated, a recipient of multiple lifesaving awards, meritorious service awards, and several letters of recommendation, he was known as a “cop’s cop.”
He was empathetic and understanding, the kind of officer you’d want to be pulled over by, and above all else, a dedicated family man. My father was just one year away from retirement.
What could have been causing him such excruciating pain that his best option was death?
On March 12, 2013, I was serving in the U.S. Marine Corps stationed with 2nd Battalion 4th Marines in California. I received a phone call from my dad’s close friend that an accident had happened at the police department.
Following the phone call, an American Red Cross emergency message was sent to my command and I was quickly on my way to the airport. I recall asking if my father was still alive. I was told that he was alive and being taken to the hospital.
What a huge sigh of relief for me. When I arrived at the airport, I got another phone call.
This one was from my brother… revealing the truth that he actually had hurt himself and that he was gone.
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I ran into the bathroom of the airport and bunkered inside, crying. I remained inside until my flight home to Connecticut was boarding.
One day earlier, on March 11, my father had called me.
If I had known this would have been the last time I would ever get to speak to him, I probably would have thought of something better to say. I knew he had been struggling with depression but I had no idea it had gotten so bad. We talked for about 20 minutes, reminiscing about good memories.
The previous year before the depression hit, he finally started traveling and using his vacation time. He spoke diligently of how happy he was that he took those trips. He explained to me that he should have done more when he was my age. He mentioned going to Yugoslavia with my mother to visit her family. He mentioned the recent Disney trip we went on with my brother. Finally, he talked about the night before the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C. where he and I had just walked around the monuments all night and talked.
He told me those were some of the best times of his life. He was saying goodbye and I didn’t even know it. I told I was going to be late for the chow hall and he told me to get going so I didn’t miss it. I told him to call me the next day and then that was it.
I wish I could have told my father how appreciative I was for everything he’s sacrificed to give my brother and me a better life.
I wish I could have told him thank you for when he would be at home on his day off and would take a call for overtime because we needed the money.
I wish I could have told him how sorry I was for causing trouble on his days off when all he wanted to do was relax in peace.
I wish I could have told him to give this some more time.
I wish I could have told him I had more resources to help him.
I wish I could have given him hope that he was going to get better.
He left a suicide note that showed how much pain he was in.
“When the depression hit this time it was different. I can’t sleep any more, I can’t relax anymore, I can’t take this torment and torture. I’m sorry I’m not stronger.”
The part that has stuck to me, giving me purpose was,
“Make my death an issue so you can get help for others like me.”
If you are currently struggling and are in need of hope, consider this your sign that there is help out there.
There are many people who care about you. Your life is worth living. I care about you.
Please don’t give up.
This Marine finds a positive way to cope with an unimaginable tragedy by running 100 Mile Ultramarathon's. He has an important message for anyone out there who may be struggling- let's make sure they see this!
Posted by Soldier Solutions LLC on Wednesday, July 31, 2019
Jared Buchanan is the son of East Hartford Connecticut Police Officer Paul S. Buchanan Badge Number 208, who died by suicide on March 12, 2013. Jared’s passion to bring awareness to suicide has embarked him on an adventure finding peace by running 100-mile ultra marathons in memory of his father and others lost by suicide. He can be reached by email at [email protected]. More information about Believe 208, the annual 5K run in honor of Paul, can be seen here.