For second day in row, NYPD mourning officer who died by suicide

The New York Police Commissioner has called the issue a mental health crisis, and the department said it is working to provide additional help.
Image: Uniformed police officers stand at attention
Uniformed police officers stand at attention outside St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York on Dec. 30, 2015.Albin Lohr-Jones / Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

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By Phil Helsel

For the second consecutive day, the New York Police Department on Wednesday said it had lost an officer to suicide, marking the ninth such death this year.

"We are saddened to announce that the NYPD has suffered another tragedy today with the loss of one of our officers to suicide," the department tweeted Wednesday. It also listed numbers that officers and other members can call seeking help.

"To anyone who may be struggling, know that there is support available. Behind each of these resources are people that care about your well-being," the NYPD said.

The commissioner overseeing the nation's largest police department has called the officer deaths a mental health crisis. The department has been aggressively reminding officers that they are not alone and that assistance and support are available. It is considering adding more counselors and other measures.

NBC New York, citing law enforcement sources, reported that the officer who died Wednesday was 56 years and found in his Queens home after police were called around 6:15 p.m. Wednesday.

On Tuesday, another police officer died by suicide in Yonkers.

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Since the beginning of June, seven NYPD officers have died by suicide, and nine since the beginning of the year.

NYPD Chief of Department Terence A. Monahan said on a WNYC radio program Tuesday that in recent years the number of deaths by suicide in the department had averaged four or five a year.

He urged all officers to reach out and get help, whether inside the department or outside, if needed. "Get the help. If you’re feeling that dark moment, get the help," Monahan said Tuesday.

The New York Police Department has around 36,000 officers and 19,000 civilian employees.

Monahan said that the NYPD is looking at increasing the number of peer counselors, counselors and psychologists as well as other preventative measures. He said the issue is not limited to the NYPD, and that suicide affects law enforcement agencies across the country.

"All I know is it's something we need to talk about, that it has to be a national conversation," Monahan said.

Blue H.E.L.P., a nonprofit made up of active and retired police officers that issues seeks to help officers and bring awareness to suicide and mental health issues, says on its website that 122 current and former officers have died by suicide so far in 2019, compared to 167 last year.

In a survey conducted by NBC New York in cooperation with the Fraternal Order of Police released in November, 78 percent of police officers across the country reported experiencing critical stress on the job, with 68 percent saying that stress triggered unresolved emotional issues.

Additionally, 16 percent of officers said that they had thoughts of suicide.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text HOME to 741741 or visit SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional resources