A widow is telling her story in hopes of saving lives.
Trish Buchanan's husband Paul was a police officer in East Hartford for 24 years.
Buchanan’s husband committed suicide, and she said she feels first responders are not getting enough mental health services, so she is pushing for legislation.
There have been other police officers and firefighters who have also ended their lives, and Buchanan said she wants to put the stigma aside, and get these brave men and women the help they need.
"He was exercising less, sleeping more, talked about the stressors of the job,” Buchanan said.
She knew her husband was struggling with depression. He had seen many difficult things as a police officer, like having a teenager once died in his arms.
Paul Buchanan was proud, and was afraid of saying he needed help.
"Help was hard to find and finding the right kind of help,” she said.
Her husband went to work one day and shot himself at the East Hartford Police Department. He left behind his wife and two sons.
That was 5 years ago, and since then Trish has organized races to raise money for mental health services.
She now supports legislation for more mental services and counseling, specifically for first responders.
It would also require a data base of suicides.
Nearly a dozen police first responders have committed suicide since 2011, and Trish says these are the ones we know about.
However, the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities is against this saying that an “unfunded mandate is not sustainable over the long term. It pushes the sole responsibility onto local taxpayers already straining under so many state budget cuts”
Trish said she feels something has to be done.
"Here it is. These are heroes and yet they are human. And underneath that badge they carry those burdens through their daily jobs, and the things that they see. They carry them and Paul was a sensitive man, he took what he saw to heart,” Trish Buchanan said.
She said Paul felt it was a sign of weakness to get help.
The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities said before we rush to legislation, we should work together, but Trish said she feels that may not be enough.
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