RANCHO CORDOVA, Calif. — Samantha Poore lost her husband, California Highway Patrol Officer Sean Poore, on October 23, 2018. He was found dead in his patrol car committing suicide.
Right before, he texted her goodbye, calling her "the best mom."
"'You're the best wife ever. Don't ever forget that,'" Samantha Poore said, remembering last time Sean texted her. "And he messaged each of my kids — to my daughter that he was wrapped around her finger since she was born. It kills me knowing those were the last things he said. His brain couldn't stop. He was in so much pain."
Poore and a Sacramento County Sheriff's Deputy are starting a non-profit organization called the "Not OK Project," an effort to raise awareness to first responder suicides.
Poore said she didn't know what she knows now when it comes to depression and mental health.
"I just feel like he felt less than what he wanted to be and he didn't think he could share that," Poore. "So he would say things and these are the things I look back now, in hindsight, where I wish I would've paid attention to those things and I didn't see those signs."
Her husband's high school friend and Sacramento County Sheriff's Deputy, Eric Meier, says mental health needs to be addressed in law enforcement.
"We see stuff that people don't see in their lives," Meier said. "And we see it in a matter of a week, in a matter of a day, and we're supposed to process it. But the stigma around first responders is that we're supposed to deal with it and move on and I wanna change that stigma."
Meier went through the pain and anxiety when fellow Sacramento County Sheriff's Deputy Robert French was killed in the line of duty. When he heard about what happened to Sean Poore, he knew something had to change.
"It hit me in the soul," Meier said. "We could've done something, as a friend, and I reached out to his wife and we started collaborating on this."
Together they're starting the "Not Ok Project" to raise awareness and stop first responder suicides.
"If somebody could've saved my husband and he could've walked through the door again, I would've absolutely reached out. So, we are here for them and their families," Poore said. "They need to know it's OK and we support them 100 percent and there's somebody that cares."
She's hoping she can change more lives in memory of a man who lived to serve others.
"I've always wanted to do something where I could help somebody," Poore said. "And I didn't know what that calling was, but I really feel like my husband gave me my purpose and I'm grateful for that because he will never be away from me. He'll always be with me and I'm so grateful."
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Back in October, a CHP officer took his own life while on duty in South Sacramento. The tragedy of the officer's death is bringing attention to an important, but often unaddressed issue: Suicide by first responders.