A Transportation Security Administration officer committed suicide at the Orlando Airport in Florida last Saturday, and one of the people who knew him said it had something to do with the recent partial government shutdown.
Robert Henry, 36, died after jumping from the balcony of a Hyatt Regency Hotel located inside the airport, reports The Orlando Sentinel.
Screenshot of stranded passengers at the airport. | Photo: Twitter/News 6 WKMG
The tragic incident occurred not too far from two TSA screening areas which had to be shut down, resulting in chaos; panicked travelers running through security and massive lines when the checkpoint reopened.
Travelers reportedly said TSA workers told them to run through security and hundreds of people- including those already aboard their fight- were rescreened. About 100 Southwest flights were also canceled.
According to TSA spokeswoman Sari Koshetz, Henry had been an employee of the federal agency since September 2006 and was most recently assigned to screening checked bags at Orlando International Airport.
Within hours of the unfortunate incident, TSA leadership in Orlando provided grief counselors for its security officers, said Koshetz.
TSA staff had just come off enduring more than a month of the partial government shutdown and the Union rep, Ralph Velez, is convinced that the hardships Henry experienced during that period played a role in his suicide.
Velez told Spectrum News 13 that when the union recently distributed gas cards to TSA workers who were working without pay during the shutdown, Henry expressed that the stress from the situation was getting to him.
President Donald Trump called off the longest shutdown in US history on January 25. The shutdown lasted 35 days and saw more than $438 million worth of federal employee's mortgage and rent go unpaid.
TSA confirmed that there was an unprecedented rise in the number of agents calling in sick, resulting in a lack of adequate staffing and security lapses.
It was so bad that a passenger went through security to board a plane with a loaded gun and had to report himself to the authorities before it was discovered.
Velez has reiterated that the tragic death of Henry makes it more important to remind DC lawmakers that another shutdown doesn’t happen, as the president threatened.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. Other international suicide helplines can be found at befrienders.org.