Nicole Gonnelli Rikard is the widow of John Rikard, an Asheville Police Sergeant who died by suicide on December 9, 2015. Before her world was turned upside down with John’s sudden death, Nicole had been a civilian employee in law enforcement since 2000. She obtained her degree in Criminology from Florida State University; she spent 11 years as crime scene investigator with the Boca Raton Police Department; then 3 years with the Asheville Police Department as a Forensic Technician.
Nicole has trained with the Miami-Dade Metropolitan Police Institute, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and has a lengthy resume of continuing education. Nicole still holds her certification as a Certified Crime Scene Analyst with the International Association for Identification. She is Critical Incident Stress Debriefing and Critical Incident Stress Management trained and, took part in peer debriefings. But even with all the trainings and education plus working over 100 suicide scenes herself, Nicole was still not prepared or conditioned for John’s death. It’s been a continuation of a lot of fight and perseverance that has brought Nicole to where she is today.
Since John’s death she has worked tirelessly to overcome her own fight with depression, anxiety and PTSD as well being a constant voice to promote wellness within the first responder community and fighting the stigma of suicide in all aspects of society. Nicole has become the Walk Chair for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Asheville/Western North Carolina Out of the Darkness Walk. Nicole is also a trained facilitator in the Talk Saves Lives series.
Nicole takes to heart and sincere pride in her position as Honor Box Coordinator for Blue H.E.L.P. Nicole has found her purpose in working with and learning from other widows. Support and a true and honest listening ear about officer suicides is needed; that is where Nicole wants to be. Need to know anything else, just ask. She’s an open book! She’s always just a text or message away.