(NEW YORK) — An off-duty New York City police officer died over the weekend from an apparent suicide, the fifth NYPD officer to take his own life in the past two months and the seventh this year, officials said.
The officer, whose name was not immediately released, was found dead on Saturday at his home in the New York City borough of Staten Island, sources told ABC New York station WABC.
“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,” NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill said in a statement.
This officer’s death came a month after O’Neill said the NYPD was in the throes of a “mental health crisis” and took steps to address the issue, including providing counseling services in every police precinct. The department has also put out videos calling for more discussion of mental health and drawing attention to the services available.
Both O’Neill and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio implored the more than 30,000 police officers on the force to seek help if they are experiencing depression.
“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,” O’Neill said. “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.”
De Blasio echoed O’Neill’s statement.
“I want to say as loudly and clearly as I can: it is okay to ask for help,” de Blasio said. “If you or a loved one is in need, ask. Your whole city stands in support of you ready to answer the call.”
The officer who took his life is a transit police officer, who was recently promoted to sergeant, the New York Daily News reported.
Four NYPD officers died from suicide in the month of June alone, and two others took their own lives earlier this year.
A recent white paper commissioned by the Ruderman Family Foundation, a philanthropic organization, found that police officers and firefighters are more likely to die by suicide than in the line of duty.
”I want to say as loudly and clearly as I can: it is okay to ask for help”
In 2017, there were at least 103 firefighter suicides and 140 police officer suicides nationwide, researchers said. In contrast, 93 firefighters and 129 police officers died in the line of duty.
“Police officers experience trauma on a regular basis — not just what is on the front line of nightly news,” Miriam Heyman, a researcher with the Ruderman Family Foundation, told ABC News in April.
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