SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – The seige on the U.S. Capitol is directly responsible for the deaths of five people but it is now suspected to play a role in one more loss three days later.
A Capitol police officer reportedly took his own life.
The tragedy has transcended past the direct violence seen on January 6th.
Flags are flying at half staff for an officer killed while protecting lawmakers and now for another who died at his own hands.
Police escorted a funeral procession in Washington, DC on Sunday afternoon to honor slain Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick.
Officer Sicknick died on Thursday from his injuries after he was struck in the head with a fire extinguisher while trying to fight off a violent mob that descended at the U.S. Capitol.
He along with four other people died.
Now we are learning that friends and family are mourning the loss of another who served on the frontline that day, except 51-year-old Capitol Police Officer Howard Liebengood reportedly took his own life.
It was not clear whether his death was connected to Wednesday’s events.
Retired Walnut Creek Police Sergeant Michael Sugrue is an advocate for first responders and suicide prevention.
“As a law enforcement officer, you are much more likely to die at your own hands than at the hands of another and most people aren’t aware of the actual numbers this year. So far, we’ve had two reported law enforcement suicides and last year we had 173 and before that 228,” Sugrue said. “We’re simply people, we are human beings and we have to go out there and do a job that most don’t want to do and would never do and it’s just constant exposure to negativity and trauma and it just builds and builds and build and builds.”
The police union shared condolences for Officer Liebengood saying he was a 15 year veteran of the USCP force who worked to protect the lives of the members of Congress, their staff, and all who serve at the U.S. Capitol.
Sugrue says a stigma in the industry for admitting concerns over mental health may stand in the way of officers like Liebengood asking for the help they really need.
“The stigma of asking for help is the real issue and prevents officers from raising their hand and asking for help that they need,” Sugrue said.
There are resources out there for first responders specifically, they can of course call the National Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK or the copline at 1-800-267-5463 and text BLUE to 741741.