St. Lucie County begins the new year dealing with tremendous grief after two St. Lucie County deputies took their own lives at the start of the new year. The deputies were the parents of one-month-old Jayce. His parents committed suicide two days apart last week.
“Clayton and Victoria were joy-filled, first-time parents excited about their growing family, enamored with their baby Jayce, and so in love with each other,” says a statement from a GoFundMe page to benefit the child. “Tragically, for reasons completely unknown and totally out of character, Clayton took his own life December 31st, 2021. Reeling from the shock of loss, Victoria took her own life two days later,” the statement continues.
The unexpected and unfortunate death of the month-old infant’s parents, both St. Lucie Sheriff’s Deputies, began when his father Clayton Osteen, 24, attempted suicide shortly before midnight on New Year’s Eve. Osteen, who was taken off life support on Sunday, passed away on Tuesday. In 2020, Osteen was awarded Deputy of the Year according to his personnel records.
However, tragedy struck again after St. Lucie County Deputy Clayton Osteen died on Jan. 2. Baby Jayce’s mother, Deputy Victoria Pacheco, took her life ‘in the wake of Deputy Osteen’s death,’ Sheriff Ken Mascara said in a statement. Both Pacheco and Osteen had been honored for saving lives, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
Osteen, a Marine veteran, was credited with performing CPR on a person who overdosed on drugs, according to a WPTV report. Pacheco, 23, a member of the force since 2020, was also awarded for her part in saving the life of a person who overdosed on drugs.
“While it is impossible for us to fully comprehend the private circumstances leading up to this devastating loss, we pray that this tragedy becomes a catalyst for change, a catalyst to help ease the stigma surrounding well-being and normalize the conversation about the challenges so many of us face on a regular basis,” Mascara said.
Longtime family friend Kelly Ridle told The New York Post Thursday that Osteen gave no indication that he had been struggling before taking his own life.
“I can’t express how totally out of character this was for Clayton,” Ridle said. “Everyone is blown away. It is completely unexplainable and unexpected.
“As many as 20 of Osteen’s former Marine Corps were arriving in Port St. Lucie from all over the country to attend the couple’s funeral,” Ridle said.
She said Pacheco’s suicide, although equally tragic, was easier to understand.
“She just had a baby and she was distraught and overwhelmed,” Ridle said.
“She was barely out of her pregnancy and scared about COVID. I don’t know if she was even able to ask for help. It was too much for her.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis said on Wednesday that his administration has taken steps to support first responders.
First Lady Casey DeSantis and the state Department of Children and Families announced that nearly $5 million from the Federal Crisis Counseling Program would be distributed to provide crisis counseling through helplines, according to DeSantis’ press secretary, Christina Pushaw.
Casey DeSantis also recently announced that $12 million will go toward expanding mental health services for first responders.