A fifth NYPD officer has died by suicide in the last two months, escalating a recent crisis that has caused all levels of police leadership to speak out on the need for cops to look after their mental health and that of their colleagues.
The officer died Saturday afternoon on Staten Island, officials confirmed. The Sergeants Benevolent Association tweeted that the late officer was a sergeant, but beyond that details were not immediately available.
"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. To every member of the NYPD, please know this: it is okay to feel vulnerable," NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill said in a statement released via Twitter.
This most recent officer's death follows the June 5 suicide of Deputy Chief Steven Silks, the June 6 death of Det. Joseph Calabrese, the June 14 death of 29-year-old Officer Michael Caddy at the 121st Precinct in Staten Island and the June 27 death of Officer Kevin Preiss at his Long Island home.
Last month, after the deaths of Silks and Calabrese a day apart, Commissioner O'Neill spoke exclusively with News 4 about the need for cops to seek help if they find themselves contemplating taking their own lives.
"To have two people kill themselves within 10 hours is just - nothing brings us to our knees, but this is close," O'Neill said.
He also sent a note to all 55,000 officers and civilian employees of the NYPD, saying in part, "before you can take care of others, it's imperative that you first take care of yourselves. Seeking help is never a sign of weakness -- it's a sign of great strength."
The officers' deaths come after News 4 highlighted growing concerns among members of law enforcement regarding police suicides. An I-Team survey of police across the country found 78% experienced critical stress on the job, with 68% saying that stress triggered unresolved emotional issues.
Sixteen percent said that they had thoughts of suicide. Despite those numbers nine out of 10 officers said there is a stigma attached to seeking help.
"This has to be a continuous process. This has to be done at roll calls. This has to be done in video training," O'Neill said. "We need to talk about this. This can’t be a deep dark secret. People have to understand that there is help available."
O'Neill has asked NYPD officers and employees who need help to call the department's employee assistance hotline at 646-610-6730.
More recent coverage:
- Fourth NYPD Officer Dies by Suicide in Three Weeks
- Officer Takes Life Outside Staten Island Stationhouse
- NYC's Top Cop Speaks on Mental Health After NYPD Suicides
- Missing NYPD Homicide Detective Found Dead by Suicide
- NYPD Deputy Chief With 38 Years of Service Takes His Own Life
If you or someone you know is in a crisis, including at risk of suicide or self-harm, help is available. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Trained counselors are available 24/7.