WESTPORT, Conn. -- No one who knew the strapping, popular Westport police sergeant Bob Myer could believe that he would kill himself.
Not his wife Beth Myer. Not his boss Westport Police Chief Foti Koskinas and fellow officers. Not his children, or his family.
But that's what happened on May 4.
Beth is tearful as she talks about how there were no warning signs to anyone. Not a one.
The tears are there when she speaks about how the family is coping.
And, the tears are there when she talks of making sure she makes a difference so others don't suffer the same fate.
"There were no signs. There wasn't one sign that he was going to do this," she said.
That makes her the saddest of all. That her beloved husband's death could have been prevented.
That's why today she, along with his family and friends, are fighting to help bring depression and suicide out of the shadows.
"It's the elephant in the room. No one wants to talk about it. It isn't talked about," she said. "There's this stigma attached to mental illness, especially suicide."
Koskinas said that in his 20 years with the department, the death of "Bobby" Myer has been the hardest thing the department has had to deal with.
"Bobby Myer was a dear friend to many of us at the department and it was an honor and pleasure to work with him everyday," he said. "The police department is a second family so it was like losing a member of your family. We are all mourning his loss."
His death hit the department so hard, that more than a week-and-a-half of counseling sessions were held for officers and other employees to get together and talk about not only Bob's death, but about their feelings and the need to get help if they are feeling pressured.
Koskinas said that following Bob's death, a good percentage of department's employees reached out to the peer counseling program or the EAP program and continue to do so.
"We still feel it, maybe you walk by his locker and it sets you back," Koskinas said.
Sharon Pelkey, the Southern Connecticut Area director of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, said bringing attention to suicide helps to direct attention to mental illness and offers a chance for those suffering to get help.
"We need to get the message out to the community that suicide and depression are preventable, and like any other illness," she said. "It's the same as if you have diabetes or cancer. It's an illness. But for many, there is still a stigma attached to it."
Pekley added that it's not unusual for people in law enforcement or the military to be afraid of seeking help.
"I worked with one officer for two weeks before I could even get him to talk with someone that could offer him help," she said. "But there is help."
Connecticut averages 379 suicides a year and is the second leading cause of death for people ages 15 to 24, she said.
That's why the American Foundation For Suicide Prevention holds an annual "Out of Darkness" walk to bring awareness and raise funds to help educate the public and lawmakers about the disease.
Beth is walking during the event in October, along with her husband's brothers and other family members and friends.
"I know he loved me and he loved his career and his children and everything," Beth said. "His death was so preventable. We have to get the word out and let people know that there is help available."
For anyone in crisis, or considering suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
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