Nashua police struggle to deal with suicide of colleague
Sep 12, 2019
Chief says he hopes sharing story will help others
The Nashua police chief said Thursday his department is struggling to deal with the death of a fellow officer who died by suicide.
Capt. Jonathan Lehto's death was announced Monday, and the Nashua Police Department revealed Thursday that Lehto had taken his own life while visiting family in Seattle. Chief Michael Carignan said colleagues of the 20-year veteran were stunned by his death.
"He was so well respected," Carignan said. "He was an attorney. He got his law degree from Boston University, wanted to be a police officer. He had a stellar career as a detective and a supervisor, so we were struggling with trying to figure out why this happened."
With the family's blessing, Carignan said the department decided not to remain silent.
"The department really felt strongly that if we could be open and honest, that here was an amazing individual, by all accounts," Carignan said. "He took his life through suicide. It could happen to anybody."
Carignan said he grew up with Lehto and had him on his command staff, but he didn't see this coming.
"He was an exceptional attorney. He was an exceptional police officer. He was active on the SWAT team for a number of years," Carignan said. "He just, he was the epitome of what you want as a police officer."
He said suicide is a harsh reality among first responders, who stoically see and deal with so much.
"There's been that mentality of, 'Don't talk about it. Don't talk about it. You're fine. Suck it up,'" Carignan said.
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