NEW YORK: A New York police officer was found dead at his Staten Island home on Saturday after shooting himself in what was the fifth police suicide in the city since June, officials said.
Officials did not immediately release the officer’s name, rank or tenure with the department; however, the Sergeants Benevolent Association said on Twitter that it was a sergeant who had died.
“Once again terrible news,” the message said. “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.”
The news underscored the Police Department’s ongoing struggles with mental health. More police officers commit suicide every year in New York City than are killed in the line of duty. (Since 2014, an average of five New York City police officers have taken their own lives each year, according to the Police Department.)
On June 5, Deputy Chief Steven Silks shot himself in his police vehicle. The next day, Detective Joseph Calabrese took his own life. Officer Michael Caddy fatally shot himself near his Staten Island precinct station house June 14, and on June 26, Officer Kevin Preiss was found dead at his home in Long Island.
In June, Commissioner James O’Neill declared a mental health crisis and told officers they could get confidential help from department chaplains, from peer-support groups and from phone and text message hotlines.
O’Neill reiterated in a statement on Saturday that “it is okay to seek help from others.”
“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,” the statement said. “To every member of the NYPD, please know this: it is okay to feel vulnerable.”
But Robert Louden, a professor emeritus of criminal justice and homeland security at Georgian Court University in New Jersey, said that officers often believe they are supposed to provide help — not seek it themselves.
“The nature of the personality is that it’s a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of shame, to go for help,” he said Saturday. “That kind of holds them back.”
Louden, who was a member of the Police Department for more than 20 years, said the suicides in New York mirrored police suicides across the country this year.
“You’re always trying to make sense out of nonsense,” he said. “There’s a lot of good feelings and a lot of helping feelings, but there’s also a lot of down feelings.”