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Community urges people to ask for help after triple murder-suicide in Hillsborough County

Posted at 7:47 PM, Dec 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-21 01:00:57-05

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — A community is standing together urging people to ask for help, if they are struggling with any issues. On Wednesday, Sheriff Chad Chronister said a deputy killed his family, which included his wife, daughter and grandchild. The sheriff urged people to speak up.

“It’s not a sign of weakness to say, ‘hey listen, I’m having a difficult time... I’m having a hard time; I need some help’,” Sheriff Chronister said.

Nearly three months ago, another deputy in his department killed his wife then himself. Sheriff Chronister said they created a video and shared it with their employees.

RELATED: Sheriff: Hillsborough deputy kills family, alerts fellow deputies over radio, then kills himself

“Why is this occurring? I wish I knew. But, as an agency, we’re certainly being proactive,” Sheriff Chronister said.

Sheriff Chronister said they created a Suicide Awareness and Prevention Program that starts next year. He said every member of his agency will take it as part of their annual in-service training.

Thursday afternoon, ABC Action News spoke with psychologist Dr. Stacey Scheckner with She is not connected with Wednesday's case.

“I don’t think it’s just the sheriff’s office. I know there’s a lot of different companies/organizations that will have situations like this, but I think it’s what they see. They are probably seeing a lot of terrible things - just like in my practice,” Dr. Scheckner said.

Dr. Scheckner said people need to remember it is okay to ask for help.

“It sounds like you are feeling so depressed and hopeless that you can commit suicide and then in some of these examples there are also, you know, homicidal… it seems that they are so depressed that they feel there is no hope for their family members,” Dr. Scheckner said.

She said people, overall, need to promote mental health more.

“We all need to say it’s not that you’re crazy that you’re going to a therapist,” Dr. Scheckner said.

She said it is important to start erasing a stigma.

“Ninety-nine percent of us have mental health issues. We all have anxiety and depression and we all need to go for help and I think the world would be a better place,” Dr. Scheckner said.