The victim sustained an apparently self-inflicted injury. Resources are available for those who need help.
By Matt Skoufalos | February 8, 2021
An Audubon police officer and volunteer firefighter is believed to have taken his own life at Cooper River Park Monday afternoon.
A spokesperson for the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office said its agents responded to the scene of an apparent, self-inflicted injury sometime after 3 p.m. February 8.
A witness in the area of North Park Drive and McClellan Boulevard placed the incident in a parking lot at the edge of the Cooper River.
The victim has not been identified out of respect for the individual and their family.
Audubon Mayor John Ward offered his condolences to both of his borough’s departments and to the family of the fallen officer.
“Our prayers are with the officer’s family and all the members of the Audubon Police Department and the Audubon Fire Department during this difficult time,” Ward said.
Audubon Commissioner Robert Lee, liaison to the borough department of public safety, said that while the investigation is underway, police services in the borough will be covered as needed to allow the department to grieve its loss.
“It’s obviously devastating,” he said. “It was a tough afternoon.”
The county chaplain visited Audubon officers Monday “to address their needs from a spiritual and emotional way,” Lee said. The commissioner encouraged everyone to seek support in processing the trauma.
Nationally, suicides among first responders are more prevalent than line-of-duty deaths. A 2018 whitepaper commissioned by the Ruderman Family Foundation of Boston attributes that to traumatization “from constant exposure to death and destruction.”
In a brief accompanying the release of the paper, the foundation notes that PTSD and depression rates among first responders can be five times that of the civilian population. Those challenges are compounded by “several barriers” that prevent them from getting access to mental health services, including “the shame and stigma surrounding mental health within professions that prioritize bravery and toughness.”
“The public remains largely unaware of these issues, since the vast majority of first responder suicides are not covered by the mainstream media,” the foundation noted.
Resources are available for first responders who are dealing with stresses, including the confidential, 24-hour CopLine of Freehold, (1-800-267-5463), the Share the Load program from the National Volunteer Fire Council, and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255).
The RISE, NJ First Responders Covid Hope & Healing Helpline also supports first responders dealing with elevated stress levels amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Please call if you need help.
This is a developing story. Stick with NJ Pen for updates.
Please support NJ Pen with a subscription. Get e-mails, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, or try our Direct Dispatch text alerts.