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By Keri Blakinger and Yi Chin Le Houston Chronicle

BAYTOWN, Texas — The Baytown police officer who disappeared last week was found dead from an apparent suicide early Tuesday in a grassy field, authorities said.

John Stewart Beasley, a 23-year veteran of the force, went missing around 3:30 p.m. Thursday, when he walked away from his home in Cove, just east of Baytown.

The 46-year-old’s family reported him missing that evening, and Chambers County sheriff’s deputies, Baytown police and two canine teams launched a search.

The sheriff’s office initially said they’d seen “no indications of foul play,” but were investigating “all possible leads and scenarios.”

Then on Tuesday morning, authorities made a grim discovery when searchers in a helicopter spotted a body along FM 565 less than a mile from Beasley’s home. He died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, police said.

He leaves behind one adult son.

Nationally, the number of police suicides appears to be on the rise, outpacing line-of-duty deaths last year. The nonprofit group Badge of Life reported 140 officers died at their own hands in 2017, up from 108 in 2016.

But it’s hard to get a more precise figures because there’s no federal database on police suicides, and many departments across the country don’t officially track those deaths, according to a Chronicle review earlier this year.

Aside from lax tracking, many departments don’t have targeted mental health support for suicidal officers, according to Ruderman Family Foundation study. Just 3 to 5 percent of police departments have suicide prevention training programs, the foundation’s analysis found.

©2018 the Houston Chronicle

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