Police tape cordoned off the street along Wilcox Street behind the 121st Precinct station house following a report of a police officer shot in the Staten Island borough of New York. Image Credit: AP

New York: A 29-year-old New York police officer fatally shot himself near his Staten Island precinct station house on Friday afternoon — the third member of the department to kill himself in ten days.

The police declined to release the officer’s name or to provide more details about his position, other than to say that he had been a New York police officer for six years before he shot himself inside a car near the 121st Precinct station house around 3.50pm (local time).

His death came as the department had already been rocked by the suicides of a veteran deputy chief and a long-time homicide detective earlier this month, which had prompted the police commissioner, James O’Neill, to urge the police to discuss mental health and seek help if they are despondent.

The commissioner reiterated that message in a statement on Friday.

“We — the NYPD and the law enforcement profession as a whole — absolutely must take action,” O’Neill said in the 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.”

Four members of the New York Police Department have killed themselves this year. That is the same number as in all of 2018.

“Today, our city is mourning the loss of another officer gone too soon,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a tweet on Friday. “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.”

Deputy Chief Steven Silks, 62, died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound on June 5, a month before his mandatory retirement. He had spent 38 years on the force and was known to be an outdoorsman, marathon runner and mountaineer.

The following day, Detective Joseph Calabrese went missing. A search party comprising helicopters, divers and 100 officers looked for Calabrese, 58, after his empty vehicle was discovered beside the Belt Parkway. Calabrese’s body was found near Plumb Beach. He had been on the force for 37 years.