Friday, June 3, 2022

DEC mourns Forest Ranger Captain Christopher Kostoss

Christopher Kostoss

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is mourning the loss of Forest Ranger Captain Christopher Kostoss, who local authorities determined died by suicide on Tuesday. Captain Kostoss, 49, was a 23-year veteran of DEC’s Division of Forest Protection, most recently responsible for overseeing Rangers on patrol in the Adirondack High Peaks.

Captain Kostoss was passionate about protecting public safety and deeply committed to the cause of conservation. He was also a tireless advocate for mental health awareness, particularly among his fellow rangers. His death is a painful reminder of the critical need to promote wellness and destigmatize issues surrounding mental health that prevent individuals from seeking treatment.

If you or someone you know is in need of mental health assistance, please know help is available. The New York State Office of Mental Health has resources on its website ( or you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.

The collective heartfelt thoughts of DEC’s close-knit family are with Captain Kostoss’ mother, two daughters, immediate family members and all who loved him. My sincere gratitude to members of the New York State Police and the Lake Placid Police Department for their strong support and professionalism throughout this tragedy.

DEC Forest Ranger Captain Christopher Kostoss. Photo provided by Cayte Bosler

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Information attributed to NYSDEC is taken from press releases and news announcements from New York State's Department of Environmental Conservation.

9 Responses

  1. I know the pain as a First Responder, not to mention a Ranger on Lake George, to my brother’s early suicide when I was just 18 years old. Such a loss takes a horrible toll for all concerned. My heart breaks with you and we’ll walk his back country trails and climb the summits and never forget. Chris would want us to stand tall. To carry on. And for his family, loved ones, colleagues, we are here for them.

  2. JohnL says:

    God bless Captain Kostoss and give his family strength. You’re in our prayers.

  3. Mark Friden says:

    This is such incredibly sad news! He was a great guy, and always professional. I had no idea of his issues.

  4. Vanessa B says:

    RIP sir – this is really really awful. 💔 I’ve read a lot like the comment above, that no one knew the extent of his own suffering. This is really unfortunate, and imo has to do with society still heavily stigmatizing mental health issues. We need to give people much more opportunity to get help before they harm themselves or others.

  5. Charlie Stehlin says:

    It is very sad that a person would take his or her own life. I have known suicides over the course of my years going back to my teen years and there has always been a weirdness about them. Not no more! The thought of suicide is not as uncommon as most people would probably think, and though the numbers are climbing, the act itself is a different story as most surely don’t follow through on their thoughts, ever…. or yet! I know this through talking about the same with others, and I’ll fess up, I’ve had thoughts of suicide myself on and off over the years. They have generally been fleeting thoughts, fortunately for me, but the thoughts were there nonetheless which I attribute to acute sensitivity, to sometimes being abnormally affected by outward influences. I feel that I know the loneliness which goes through the minds of some suicides because of this.

    I am not an expert on this, and surely there are dozen-lots of reasons why some people decide to opt out by self-destruction, whether it be economical, relationships, clinical depression, etc., but I am of the mind, and I could be wrong on this, that if there was more brotherly & sisterly love, more understanding, more compassion, more people we could talk to (besides shrinks who have their own issues); if there was less division in this society, more hope….there’d be less suicides. The mind is such a fragile thing and it don’t take much to throw it off balance.

    Guilt will sometimes lead to suicide. I read a story not long ago in the New York Times about a 9-year-old girl who was found murdered in Spokane, Washington in 1959. There was never an arrest for that horrific crime, but through the advanced technology (DNA) they discovered who the murderer was 60 years later. By this time the murderer was dead, he committed suicide in 1970, eleven years, or less, after he committed his crime. My first thought after reading that story was that guilt got the better of him. Nobody knew he was the murderer until 60 years later.

    I’m not drifting as much as I am extending on this theme suicide. I have a book titled, “The Anatomy of Suicide” by Forbes Winslow 1840. Way back then suicide was common. It was common thousands of years ago according to the records, Cleopatra & Mark Antony the Roman being just two examples. In this book is a poem on guilt, which sometimes leads to suicide:

    “Though thy slumber may be deep,
    Yet thy spirit shall not sleep;
    There are shades which will not vanish,
    There are thoughts thou canst not banish;
    By a power to thee unknown,
    Thou canst never be alone;
    Thou art wrapt as with a shroud,
    Thou art gathered in a cloud;
    And for ever shalt thou dwell
    In the spirit of this spell.”

    What I get out of the poem is we all have to live with ourselves and what is inside our heads can make or break us. There is a thing a friend told me years ago which has stuck with me since. He said, “Charlie, whatever you do don’t let anybody live in your head!” I needed to hear that and have needed to be reminded of it now and again since I’ve heard it. It is so easy to let things eat at us fragile and insecure as we are! I know not the first thing about Ranger Kostos, but I sympathize with his family’s loss. The photo reveals a lot, or seemingly so! I see a gentle, compassionate, sincere, happy man in it. It’s too bad that he chose to opt out the way he did. A reminder of how fragile we are as humans! Not that we need to be reminded!

  6. John boy says:

    Not to be a downer but one can expose their life to allot of life/career damaging paperwork baggage when they enter the mental health system. I so hope this issue be addressed as part of the overall needed push for improved mental health treatment.
    I do hope so for all that need help especially our brave soldiers that have such a high rate of post service suicide

  7. mike says:

    Sad news. Another fail for NYS. This man had issues and was allowed to carry a firearm.

  8. F224 says:

    You were loved. You fought the demons for a long time. You are a legend to me, and I will never forget your kindness to one of the new kids on the block. Those who know you would love to see your big grin again. May all our memories live on.

  9. Charlie Stehlin says:

    “This man had issues and was allowed to carry a firearm.”

    Not all people who have issues will hurt others mike, not that you were implying such, but that is what my immediate thoughts were. A gun is surely a quick way out, sad though it may be no matter which the preferred choice. I very much empathize with survivors of suicides. Strongly I feel that too often suicides tried to reach out in their own subtle ways, which should be enough (subtle) if there was more good communication skills, more understanding, etc. Truly I believe the signs are there but people just don’t see as they are in their own ‘little’ worlds. It’s a shame!

    “Of suicide, I pull thus from, “Moore’s Journal The Unknown No. 12, Annual Issue, 1948-49 London pages 53-54”

    “Whatever the influence enticing to the act, the result is neither oblivion nor relief from trouble. This is the cold, hard fact to be realized. Spiritual research has disclosed the true state of affairs in regard to the suicide. The act of self-destruction, no matter for what reason it is done, is a wilful (sic) violation of natural law, and carries the most dreadful consequences. There is no oblivion in death, only a heightened self-consciousness. The spirit of the suicide survives the awful deed and becomes acutely aware of its troubles in an aggravated form. The body only has been destroyed, nothing else. When the poor spirit finds itself rooted to the spot where it took the fatal step, the devastating thought, “I have made a terrible mistake”, plunges it into a state of unutterable despair. The agony of realization that any possible opportunity to alleviate besetting troubles has been lost through the suicidal act intensifies previous suffering into a state of extreme torture….. ”

    I know some people may not wish to read such, and we cannot know for sure if this is actually the case, but then….there’s a lot we just don’t know! I do believe that there is something beyond after we die, and that what we do here matters much in the afterlife, or the next plane; and that if we don’t learn in this life we will have to learn in the next life, or the one after that! From what I’ve been reading I gather such. The above thinking goes back surely thousands of years………………. again, my condolences!

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