A New York City police officer was found dead Saturday on Staten Island in the department’s fifth suicide since June.
NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill confirmed the news in a statement Saturday night in which he urged officers facing hardship to speak up and stressed to them that “it is okay to feel vulnerable.”
“You may not know this, and it may be hard to imagine, but you are not out there all by yourself,” he said. “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.”
In a tweet, the NYPD Sergeants Benevolent Association called the officer’s death “terrible news,” asking for prayers for his friends, family and colleagues.
Once again terrible news. Tonight the NYPD lost a sergeant to suicide. We ask that everyone pray for his family, friends and Co-workers. The NYPD continues to go through a difficult time. We know you won’t call the Dept if you need help please call the SBA please! 🙏➕👮♀️🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/e473M5MuWK
— SBA (@SBANYPD) July 27, 2019
Last month, four others died by suicide ― a deputy chief on the cusp of mandatory retirement, a longtime homicide detective, a young patrolman and a veteran officer. Seven members of the NYPD have died by suicide this year.
O’Neill has made multiple pleas to officers to reach out for help. In a June 14 letter, the commissioner declared that suicide had become a mental health crisis within the department, stating, “This cannot be allowed to continue.”
“We must take care of each other,” he wrote. “We must address this issue ― now ― because it will not go away on its own. We must speak out. And we must end this crisis, together.”
Reiterating O’Neill’s Saturday statement, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio emphasized resources are available for those who need them.
“I want to say as loudly and clearly as I can: It is okay to ask for help,” he said. “If you or a loved one is in need: ask. Your whole city stands in support of you ready to answer the call.”
According to data from Blue H.E.L.P., a law enforcement-focused mental health advocacy group based in Massachusets, at least 167 officers in the U.S. died by suicide last year, 9% more than those who died in the line of duty.
If you or someone you know needs help, call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also text HOME to 741-741 for free, 24-hour support from the Crisis Text Line. Outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of resources.