KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Officers face danger every day in the line of duty, and off-duty, the danger continues.
First responders are more likely to take their own lives than to be killed on the job. It’s a reality that KCPD Det. Chris Garcia’s family knows all too well.
Garcia joined law enforcement because he loved to help people, and he loved the work he did with KC police. He was awarded Law Enforcement Officer of the Year by the Missouri Narcotic Officers Association.
“He was a jokester. He liked doing crazy things, and he loved superheroes all his life. The thing is, he never realized he was our superhero, too,” said Garcia’s mother, Sylvia Langhammer.
Two months ago, he took his own life. Now, he’s a hero helping people in a different way.
“Parts of Christopher are still alive. His spirit is out there,” Langhammer said.
The Midwest Transplant Network said Garcia’s organ and tissue donation will help save up to 75 lives.
“All of his major organs were donated, his heart and his lungs. One lady that was on the donor list for over 1,500 days got one of his kidneys,” his mother said.
But Langhammer wanted to keep a part of her son with her. With Midwest Transplant Network’s help, she now has a recording of her son’s heartbeat saved in a Build-A-Bear.
“Midwest Transplant made sure we had with us the heart of Christopher, his spirit, that lives in our bear,” she said. “So when I miss him, I can listen.”
Langhammer said it’s important to remember that you never know what someone might be going through behind closed doors.
“We are all human. We all carry a lot of things inside of us you wouldn’t know just from looking at people,” Langhammer said.
Most importantly, she said don’t be afraid to ask for help.
“Especially for men, especially for first responders who always takes care of other people, they need to learn to take care of themselves,” she said.
If you are having suicidal thoughts, we urge you to get help immediately.
Go to a hospital, call 911 or call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433).
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