An unnamed 29-year-old New York police officer shot himself in a car on Friday afternoon. The department didn’t give out any further information about the officer, other than that his death took place not far from his Staten Island precinct house and that he had been on the force for six years. He is the third New York police officer to take his own life in less than 10 days, thus raising questions about mental health, according to The New York Times.
Earlier this month, the New York Police Department already lost a veteran deputy chief and a longtime homicide detective, both to suicide. The department does not want these tragic deaths to become a trend.
Deputy Chief Steven J. Silks was 62-years-old and committed suicide on June 5. His death occurred prior to his mandatory retirement from the force after 38 years in service. The day after Deputy Silks body was discovered, Detective Joseph Calabrese went missing. His body was later found near Plumb Beach. He had been on the force for 37 years.
Police commissioner James P. O’Neill released a public statement regarding the tragic deaths. He called it a “mental health crisis” and spoke of a need for immediate change, not only within the New York Police Department, but in the law enforcement community as a whole. His urgent statement included the hotline numbers that officers can use to receive confidential assistance if they are struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts.
A police officer fatally shot himself near his Staten Island precinct station house Friday afternoon, the third member of the NYPD to kill himself in 10 days https://t.co/VE8zkCBNod— The New York Times (@nytimes) June 15, 2019
“We — the N.Y.P.D. and the law enforcement profession as a whole — absolutely must take action. 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.”
He went on to encourage those within the force to take care of one another and to not be afraid or embarrassed to reach out for help if you need it.
Mayor Bill de Blasio also commented upon the deaths on Friday.
“Today our city is mourning the loss of another officer gone too soon. Three brave members of our police force have taken their lives in recent days. All of them led lives that made their communities better. All of their lives had meaning.”
Heartbreaking photos captured on Friday afternoon depict New York police officers gathering near the location of their fellow officer’s suicide. Two are seen comforting one another with an embrace.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741. For readers outside the U.S., visit Suicide.org or Befrienders Worldwide for international resources you can use to find help.