Suicide ruled in death of lieutenant

An autopsy Tuesday confirmed that a 30-year veteran of the Groton City Police Department committed suicide Monday morning.

Lt. Thomas Forbes shot himself in the head, according to the state Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

After joining the department in 1982, Forbes served as a patrolman, detective, sergeant, lieutenant and, in his latest position, lieutenant-commander of the Detective Division and Support Services Division.

He was a graduate of the FBI National Academy at Quantico, Va.

According to Badge of Life, an international group of retired police officers, clinicians and researchers, 145 officers in the United States took their lives in 2010.

Robert E. Douglas Jr., executive director of the National Police Suicide Foundation, said the stress of police work can be cumulative through the day-to-day duties of the job.

"It's like a slow cancer," he said. "You don't notice it, but as you grow older it accumulates."

Douglas said fellow officers are also deeply affected by a colleague's suicide.

"The trauma of a suicide is greater than the trauma from a line-of-duty death," he said. "When someone dies while on the job, (the survivors) can direct their anger towards an individual. In a suicide, everyone feels responsible."

Douglas, a retired Baltimore officer who founded the peer organization to provide suicide awareness and training programs to police officers and their families, said it was important for the Groton City Police Department to implement a plan to address any of the issues that the officers may have as a result of Forbes' death.

Groton City Police Chief Bruno Giulini could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Forbes' death marks the third suicide of an officer in Connecticut during the past two months.

Rocky Hill Sgt. Leonard Kulas was found dead in his cruiser at a local cemetery. He shot himself in the head.

New Britain Capt. Matthew Tuttle committed suicide after he was arrested for drunken driving.

Both men died in April.

i.larraneta@theday.com

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