Danville police officer’s death raises awareness about law enforcement suicides

DANVILLE, Va. – Danville Police Officer Eric Goff II was just 22 years old when he took his own life on Nov. 18.

He was laid to rest Saturday.

Danville Police Department Lt. Richard Chivvis said Goff’s death is an important reminder.

“Our chaplain explained it to us like this: Every one of us, every human being, we have an emotional bucket. Every encounter we have, that bucket starts to fill,” Chivvis said.

Allowing the bucket to get full can lead to tragedies like what happened last Monday.

That’s where Danville Police Department Lt. Mike Wallace and the other members of the local critical incident stress management team come in.

“If someone is in need, or an incident takes place, we can pick and choose from those members, maybe, to have a conversation with those that are affected,” Wallace explained.

The team is made up of police officers, sheriff’s deputies, firefighters and mental health professionals.

Wallace believes it’s been very successful.

Goff’s death is the police department’s first active-duty officer suicide in almost 30 years.

“Taking time to heal is certainly part of your growth as a person or as an officer or an affected person,” Wallace said.

According to the national organization Blue H.E.L.P., which tracks law enforcement suicides, there have been more than 200 this year.

“We aren’t really clear on whether or not there’s an increase in law enforcement officer suicides, but we do know there’s an increase in the number that’s been reported to us,” Blue H.E.L.P. board member Doug Wyllie said.

The organization also provides a database of resources for officers across the country, giving officers like Eric Goff an opportunity to continue helping save lives even in death by bringing awareness to the resources.

A fund has been set up in Goff’s name for mental health resources for law enforcement officers. To donate, money can be sent to Eric Goff II Fund c/o Fidelity Bank 231 East Church Street, Martinsville, VA 24112.