Fla. Sheriff's Deputy Commits Suicide Outside Headquarters

Feb. 1, 2024
A Highlands County sheriff's deputy—described as "a great employee with a great attitude"—asked to take a break while on duty and was found dead less than a block away from headquarters.

sheriff’s deputy died by suicide outside his central Florida headquarters while on duty Wednesday morning.

Paul Robitaille, 56, asked to take a break around 10 a.m. and was seen speaking to another deputy outside the Highlands County Courthouse where he worked as a detention deputy, before being found dead less than a block away, police said on Facebook.

“At no time did Deputy Robitaille give any indication something was wrong,” the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office wrote. “A short time later, he was found near the northeast corner of the HCSO headquarters, deceased from a self-inflicted wound.”

Robitaille, who was married with three children — one of whom worked as a part-time deputy for the sheriff’s office — was shot with his own service weapon. His death happened 100 miles southeast of Tampa, in the landlocked town of Sebring.

Robitaille had been with the agency since March 2007. Sheriff Paul Blackman remembered his deputy as “a great employee with a great attitude” and vowed to assist Robitaille’s family and colleagues in coping with their sudden loss.

“Last year, more than 50,000 Americans died by suicide and 128 of those were law enforcement officers,” Blackman’s office posted, adding that “one is too many.”

The sheriff urged anyone considering self-harm to seek help, which includes contacting authorities for assistance.

Suicide was the 11th leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2021, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Between 2001 and 2021, men were roughly four times more likely to take their own lives than women.

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