Third New York police officer dies by suicide in 9 days

NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill told officers that seeking help was not a sign of weakness, but rather "a sign of great strength."
Funeral Held For NYPD Detective Killed During Attempted Robbery In Queens
An NYPD officer attends funeral services at the Church of St. Rosalie on Feb. 20, 2019 in Hampton Bays, New York.Drew Angerer / Getty Images file

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By Doha Madani

A New York police officer killed himself Friday, marking the third officer to die by suicide since last week.

The 29-year-old officer died outside a New York Police Department precinct on Staten Island, marking the third police suicide over the last nine days, NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill confirmed in a statement Friday. Authorities did not give information about the officer's identity.

"This cannot be allowed to continue," O'Neill said in a statement. "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."

O'Neill urged officers to speak to someone and seek help through department resources and called it "imperative" for colleagues to take care of each other.

"Accepting help is never a sign of weakness — in fact, it's a sign of great strength," O'Neill said. "Please connect yourself or your friends and colleagues to the assistance that is so close by."

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Deputy Chief Steven Silks, 62, was just days away from retirement when he was found dead on June 5 in Queens. Silks served the department for nearly 39 years and was described as one of the "most capable and most dependable" cops in the department by O'Neill last week.

"To the cops here today, I need you to know that help is available to you," O'Neill said. "Help is here, you are never alone. What seems unbearable today will be more manageable tomorrow."

Brooklyn Detective Joseph Calabrese, 58, was reported missing the day after Silks' death after his car was found on the Belt Parkway in Sheepshead Bay. Calabrese was later found dead in Plumb Beach, NBC New York reported.

Calabrese was a homicide detective in Brooklyn South and a 37-year veteran of the department. He also served as the chairman for the board of trustees for the Detectives’ Endowment Association, according to NBC New York.

NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan released a video on Twitter where he called conversations about mental health "imperative" as law enforcement officers around the country struggle with suicide.

Monahan acknowledged that some officers may fear that using department resources to discuss their mental health struggles may adversely affect their career. The chief encouraged those officers to speak to family or seek help externally instead.

"You cannot internalize this, this is something that needs to be spoken about," Monahan said.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement Friday evening that his office was working with NYPD to put resources "front and center" for officers.

"Three brave members of our police force have taken their lives in recent days," de Blasio said. "All of them led lives that made their communities better. All of their lives had meaning."

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

Julmary Zambrano contributed.