‘His death wasn’t in vain’: Chelsea Captain channels pain of son’s suicide toward helping others

A Chelsea Police Captain is channeling the pain of losing his 24-year-old son to suicide toward helping others.

The Chelsea Police Department is now one of the first forces in the nation to display the 988 National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline in all of its marked cruisers.

Capt. David Betz played an instrumental role in making that happen.

He’s bracing for the sixth anniversary of his son’s death later this month.

Capt. Betz believes if his son had known there was help out there in his darkest moment, he may still be alive today.

“You think you know when a person is in a mental crisis, and my son had no symptoms at all,” said Capt. Betz. “I’ve thought about that every day for the past six years.”

David Kevin Betz III’s body was found inside his car in the parking lot of a Peabody gym on February 22nd, 2017.

“I pulled into the parking lot, and his car was there. I pulled up his car, and he was deceased from a self-inflicted gunshot wound,” recalled Capt. Betz.

His first-born son was an officer with the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health and was about a year away from becoming a full-time police officer.

“I’m just a dad who lost his son that happens to be a cop,” said Capt. Betz. “It gives me some satisfaction to know that his death wasn’t in vain.”

988 National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline stickers, with information in both English and Spanish, are now posted on the back windows of the department’s two dozen marked cruisers.

The stickers will also soon be posted inside city buildings and other visible locations in Chelsea.

Capt. Betz wants people to know they’re not alone and wishes he had the chance to tell that to his son.

“If a person knew there was someone on the other end of the phone or the other end of the street that would listen to them for that one additional second… it may alter the course of their life,” he added.

The 988 National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline has been operational for a little over six months.

It has already handled more than two million inquiries across phone calls, chats and text messages.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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