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Fifth officer dies by suicide in two months amid ‘mental health crisis’, NYPD confirms

Posted at 7:34 PM, Jul 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-27 19:35:31-04

STATEN ISLAND — A fifth NYPD officer has died by suicide in two months, police officials confirmed Saturday.

Authorities confirmed the officer, whose name has not yet been released, died in Staten Island Saturday.

“The tragic news today that another member of the NYPD has been lost to suicide breaks our hearts, and is a deep sorrow felt by all of New York City,” Police Commissioner James O’Neill said in a statement. “To every member of the NYPD, please know this: it is okay to feel vulnerable. It is okay if you are facing struggles. And it is okay to seek help from others. You may not know this, and it may be hard to imagine, but you are not out there all by yourself. More people than you know, who wear the same uniform as you do, share the same doubts and fears and struggles that you do. Seeking help is strength. Talking about your problems is strength. Acknowledging you need a place to turn is strength. There is no shame here — only a promise to provide you with the help and support you need and deserve.

It’s the department’s seventh death by suicide this year — the fifth since June 5.

“Tonight our city mourns at the news that we’ve lost another NYPD officer to suicide,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “These tragedies cannot continue. We cannot lose any more of our officers. We cannot leave parents, spouses and children at home waiting for loved ones who will not return.

“I want to say as loudly and clearly as I can: it is okay to ask for help. If you or a loved one is in need: ask. Your whole city stands in support of you ready to answer the call.”

Back in June, O’Neill called the officer suicides “a mental-health crisis.”

“We — the NYPD and the law enforcement profession as a whole — absolutely must take action,” O’Neill said in a statement. “This cannot be allowed to continue. Cops spend so much of their days assisting others. But before we can help the people we serve, it is imperative that we first help ourselves.”

A 2018 study by the Ruderman Family Foundation, a philanthropic organization, found policemen and firefighters are more likely to die by suicide than in the line of duty. But there are several barriers preventing first responders from accessing mental health services, “including shame and stigma,” the paper states.

Earlier this month, medical experts, union officials and the Brooklyn borough president called on city and police leaders to add meditation and mindfulness training for law enforcement officers, as the NYPD deals with the rash of officer suicides.

“Police officers are reluctant — because of history — of revealing whatever trauma they are experiencing,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, a former NYPD officer who said he now meditates daily.

The NYPD offers multiple resources for the emotional and physical toll the job takes on those in the force.

On their website, the NYPD lists numbers for their Employee Assistance Unit, Chaplain’s Unit, peer assistance program, and other resources.

The NYPD also recommends POPPA — Police Organization Providing Peer Assistance. It’s a “volunteer police support network committed exclusively to providing a confidential, safe and supportive environment for police officers and retirees.” Their helpline is 1-888-COPS-COP (1-888-267-7267).

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, contact the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255). It’s a free, 24/7 service that offers support, information, and local resources. You can also click here for additional hotlines within the tri-state area and the nation.

Depression and suicidal thoughts are often exhibited in many ways. Warning signs for suicide can include, but are not limited to, talking about wanting to die; conveying feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness or being a burden; and displaying extreme moods.

If someone you know exhibits warning signs of suicide, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention advises that you do not leave the person alone, call a prevention hotline, and take the person to an emergency room or seek help from a medical or mental health professional.

For more information on suicide prevention, including additional resources and warning signs, you can visit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s website.