A third New York Police Department officer died of an apparent suicide on Friday just days after two other members of the force took their own lives, prompting the police commissioner to declare that there is a “mental health crisis” in the ranks.
The officer, who has not been named, was described by Police Commissioner James O’Neill as a “promising” 29-year-old police officer who has been on the job for six years.
A senior NYPD official told The Daily Beast that the officer, who is part of a domestic violence unit, was found around 3:50 p.m. in the parking lot of the 121st Precinct on Staten Island, minutes before he was set to start his 4 p.m. to midnight shift.
A preliminary investigation determined that the officer, who was in his patrol uniform, turned his department issued weapon on himself, the official said. It will be up to the city medical examiner to determine the official cause of death.
The NYPD has been holding meetings across the department about “what additional measures can be taken on behalf of officers and their mental health, and to dissolve the stigma that getting help will adversely affect your career,” the official said.
Just last week, O’Neill sent out a letter to 55,000 department employees calling for an open discussion on mental health.
On Friday he urged law enforcement everywhere to deal with a larger problem.
“In less than 10 days’ time, the NYPD has lost three of its own to suicide,” O’Neill said. “This is a mental-health crisis. And we—the NYPD and the law enforcement profession as a whole—absolutely must take action. This cannot be allowed to continue.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio also released a statement telling officers “your city is here for you. You are not alone. Help is here. Reach out.”