An off-duty NYPD cop died late Tuesday night after a self-inflicted gunshot was discovered, police said. The policeman, who was not named, was found by police on gunshot wound at 178th Street and Union Turnpike in the Utopia neighborhood.
The death of the officer marks the 10th time that a member of the NYPD died from suicide in 2019.
“This was a very hard year now, we hurt now,” said NYPD Detective Chief Dermot Shea in August following the suicide of 56-year-old cop Robert Echeverria. “We all sense it, from the unions to leaders, to police managers. And we’re all trying to work together to create strategies to do more. Each one of us wants the same thing here.”
Suicide intensifies a recent crisis that has driven all levels of police officials to speak out about the need for cops and their colleagues to care about their mental health.
The new death of officers follows the suicide by the Deputy Chief Steven Silks on June 5, the death of Det Joseph Calabrese on June 6, Officer Michael Caddy died in Staten Island on June 14, Officer Kevin Preiss died in his Long Island home on June 27, Sergeant Terrance McAvoy died in the Staten Island home on July 27, Officer Johnny Rios passed away on August 13. Officer Johnny Rios died
In June, after Silks and Calabrese died a day apart, Commissioner James O’Neill discussed exclusively with News 4 the need for cops to look for help should they consider taking their own lives.
“The killing of two people in 10 hours is just-nothing brings us to our knees, but that is near,” said O’Neill.
He also sent a letter to all 55,000 NYPD officers and civil servants, saying in part, “It’s important that you first take care of yourselves before you can take care of others. Looking for help is never a sign of weakness – it’s a sign of great power.”
The deaths of officers followed News 4 which highlighted growing concerns among law enforcement officials about police shootings. A countrywide I-Team survey of police found that 78 percent of the workplace was under critical stress, with 68 percent saying that stress caused unsolved emotional questions.
16 percent said they had suicidal thoughts. Notwithstanding these figures, 9 of 10 officers said that stigma was attached to seeking assistance.
“This must be a continuous process and must be achieved in roll-calls, in video practice,” O’Neill said. “We can talk about it. It can’t be a deep dark secret. People must know that there is support.”