About the Program
Sergeant Jonathan Black was a devoted husband to Heather and a loving father of five children. He was a friend to many and selflessly served his community. For 16 years, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office was blessed to employ Jonathan within the Department of Detention Services. Jonathan, also known as Jon, was a model of resiliency and was passionate about helping others. In a few short years, he experienced the personal tragedy of losing his daughter, Emily, to accidental carbon monoxide poisoning and the loss of four friends, all who were first responders, to suicide. Jonathan made it his personal mission to help others. He wanted people to know there was always another choice than suicide and that asking for help was not a sign of weakness.
In August of 2017, Jonathan gave a Suicide Prevention presentation at a general staff meeting for the Sheriff’s Office. His presentation encouraged employees to deal with stress instead of ignore it and to turn to friends for help and guidance. He shared his experiences, let people know it was ok to ask for help, and he encouraged others to be their brother’s keeper. Jonathan outlined resources and provided his own cell phone number for people to reach out to him 24/7 if they were in need.
On November 24, 2017, the day after Thanksgiving, Jonathan was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer, but remained positive and determined to help others. After being diagnosed, Jonathan said, “I had a very simple choice to make that day, only two to make. I could be angry at God, I could ask the wrong question which is why, and fade away into a depression again, or I could say I’m not giving up, I’m going to win, and we’re going to pull together on this and move forward with positivity.”
Jonathan and Heather created a Facebook Page, “Our Battle through Pancreatic Cancer.” The page not only documented their journey with pancreatic cancer, but Jonathan also used it to uplift and encourage others that even life’s most difficult adversities can be overcome with faith in God and positive thinking.
As he was battling cancer, Jonathan’s resolve to help others strengthened. In his final days, he asked Sheriff Chad Chronister to create a Suicide Prevention program. To the very end, Jonathan demonstrated great courage and resiliency. On July 8, 2018, Jonathan lost his courageous battle with cancer.
On July 10, 2018, Sheriff Chronister posthumously promoted Jonathan to the rank of Sergeant.
The Sergeant Jonathan Black Resiliency Program was created to continue Jonathan’s vision and share his message with an overall goal of reaching as many first responders as possible.
“Jon’s vision revolved around the concepts of love, compassion, and community. Jon saw great value in every individual and preached we should all embrace each other as family. He maintained we're all brothers and sisters and we should not allow ourselves to become complacent in our obligation to support and love each other. His philosophy entailed we do a better job of supporting and communicating with each other; to him, this meant being attentive to the emotional needs/ailments of others and responding with love and compassion.” –friend and supervisor, Lieutenant Chris Fortner
The Sergeant Jonathan Black Resiliency Program would like to express sincere gratitude to Heather Black, Sheriff Chad Chronister, Crisis Center of Tampa Bay President and CEO Clara Reynolds and retired HCSO Master Deputy and Psychotherapist Dr. Jesse Collins for their support and selfless contributions to this program.
Life is fragile and can be taken from us
Anytime without expectation
We are but one heartbeat away
From heaven's reservation
With Christ as our life coach and our guide
There is no need to fear
Fear is a liar cast out by love
As God's love draws us nearer
If there is one thing I've learned
It's not about me
It's about what I can do for others
From this day forward I challenge you
To pay it forward to another
What I desire most through this journey we've shared
Is to be a positive reflection
If just one word can touch a life
Then I believe I have left a legend