‘Mental health crisis’: 5th NYPD officer dies by suicide in 2 months

‘Mental health crisis’: 5th NYPD officer dies by suicide in 2 months The fifth suicide among New York police over the past two months has prompted Commissioner James O’Neill to once again speak up about the widening ‘mental health crisis’ and remind the officers there is no shame in seeking help.

A police sergeant was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound on Staten Island on Saturday in what has become the seventh case of suicide among both experienced and rookie NYPD officers since the beginning of the year.

Back on June 5, Deputy Chief Steven Silks, 62, just days away from retirement, was found dead in a police car in Queens. A day later, Detective Joseph Calabrese, 58, was found dead at Brooklyn’s Plum Beach. Several days later, a 29yo officer committed suicide, while a 53yo police veteran officer was found dead at the end of the month.

Commissioner O’Neill declared a “mental health crisis” following the third death, since his department had an average of ‘only’ four to five suicides in recent years. Following the latest incident, O’Neill once again urged the officers to never be ashamed to seek help in case of any trouble, emphasizing that “it is okay to feel vulnerable.”

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Yet even though “seeking help is strength,” according to the commissioner, studies suggest that most officers avoid discussing their struggles and fears due to a perceived social stigma – and the fear of losing their job. Some 78 percent of New York police officers faced “critical stress” at work, a survey conducted by NBC showed. For 68 it resulted in “unresolved emotional issues” while 16 percent even thought of suicide. Police officers and firefighters face a greater risk of suicide, a 2018 study by the Ruderman Family Foundation found, while also emphasizing that “shame and stigma” issue.

In total, across the US, more than 100 police officers took their own lives since the beginning of the year, while last year saw at least 167 suicides – but the problem of course is not limited to the United States.

In April, a French police union lamented a spike in suicides within the ranks of the law enforcement officers, which was blamed on grueling schedules, exhaustion, and heightened tensions caused by the weekly protest rallies and years of increased terrorist threat.

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