Another Police Suicide
My friend Andy killed himself after returning from active reserve military duty. A mutual friend called out of the blue and said I've got some bad news for you, our friend Andy's killed himself. I was disappointed, sad, and not the least bit surprised. In police work, you deal with a lot of suicides on and off duty. My friend Andy suffered from depression, but kept it under control with medicine. He kept the depression medicine use secret as he lived in fear of losing his law enforcement commission over it. Unbeknownst to us he also suffered from schizophrenia. We'll never know if he took medicine for the schizophrenia or not. He kept it a secret, so I doubt he did.
Andy was a funny guy. He kept his office full of military ships and aircraft models like a kid would make with model glue and paint. The models took up a lot of space in his office and were beautiful. I was shocked when I learned from someone that Andy paid someone to build the models. There were at least one hundred or more of these models that seemed to represent Andy. When I found out he did not build them I knew there were many layers of secrets to my friend.
Andy managed a training program that a mutual friend and I designed. It's always tough taking over a training program from the original designer. There was always going to be comparisons between the two. The original designer was more well respected and had a longer history in training. Andy managed the program like a guy who wanted to be liked. He focused more on hanging out with the students than training them. We counseled him on getting too familiar with the students and deviating from the curriculum.
When Andy returned from year overseas duty he was not the same. He was been promoted to a senior officer after the one-year active duty. He would sit in his office with the lights out staring. He would answer questions in one syllable words with no emotion or inflection. He would not engage is conversation and did not swim laps like he traditionally did. Andy and I used to swim laps together. Swimming seemed to always make him happy, but no more.
I went to Andy's supervisor and said, "I'm worried he's going to kill himself." As a trained critical incident stress management counselor I saw all the signs of an impending suicide. He displayed signs of depression, he no longer worked out, and he would frequently vanish. I was one of three friends who went to the supervisor. The supervisor who was a pretty self centered fellow blew it off and said he would look into it. The supervisor listened to my concerns, but did nothing. Andy shot himself in the heart several weeks later. I remember getting the phone call about it from a mutual friend.
Andy shot himself in the heart with his service weapon in the closet of his house. Andy's wife used to find him missing from the bed in the middle of the night. She would find him in the cedar closet crying uncontrollably balled up on the floor. A suicidal shot to the heart symbolized a broken heart. Andy's heart was broke and we will never know why. He wrote suicide notes to his closest friends and supervisors. He wrote one to his military reserve supervisor, one to his immediate law enforcement supervisor, and several to his immediate co-workers.
We know he messed up on several projects. One resulted in a government lawsuit. My friend and I warned him that he was incurring liability by not following protocol. It was like he was trying to accomplish too many big projects at once and they began crashing down on him. The same supervisor I warned about the suicide ordered his subordinates and Andy's co-workers to clean Andy's house after the suicide thereby adding to the trauma of losing their friend by having to clean his remains. It's truly more horrible than it sounds.
There were no professional cleaners brought in. The co-workers cleaned the blood off the walls of the closet and cut out the section of blood soaked flooring for removal. Andy's supervisor was covering his tracks because he knew he was responsible for his employee's death through negligence and for failure to take action. The same supervisor was one of those that got a suicide letter. I wonder what it said? Knowing Andy it was an apology for letting him down. The supervisor retired shortly thereafter.