NEW YORK – An off-duty New York city police officer killed himself on Wednesday, adding to a troubling increase in death by suicides within the New York City Police Department.
The officer with more than 25 years of service, whose name was not immediately released, became the ninth NYPD officer to die by suicide this year, authorities said. Officials said he shot himself in the head at his home in Queens just after 6 p.m. He was rushed to a hospital in Manhasset, where he was pronounced dead.
The loss comes only a day after another off-duty police officer killed himself in Yonkers.
The department tweeted out the news, offering resources and support to anyone who may be struggling with mental health.
We are saddened to announce that the NYPD has suffered another tragedy today with the loss of one of our officers to suicide.
To anyone who may be struggling, know that there is support available.
Behind each of these resources are people that care about your well-being. pic.twitter.com/1rYN9mmdUJ
— NYPD NEWS (@NYPDnews) August 15, 2019
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Police Commissioner James O'Neill has declared a mental health crisis in the department amid the spate of officer suicides. He has spoken out about the issue, urging officers to seek help if they need it.
"We must make sure our cops understand the process when seeking help during a crisis – their careers don’t have to be adversely affected," O'Neill tweeted in July, linking to an interview with WNYC radio about suicide prevention.
We must make sure our cops understand the process when seeking help during a crisis — their careers don’t have to be adversely affected. We must make sure they’re comfortable coming to us, or going outside the NYPD (that is NOT an issue). Full interview➡️ https://t.co/q5yLiXY4NR pic.twitter.com/xUPlKCP3KZ
— Commissioner O'Neill (@NYPDONeill) July 14, 2019
Experts say police officers have a higher suicide rate than the general public, partially because of their ready access to firearms.
Editor's note: The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
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Contributing: The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NYPD suicide: 9th police officer dies amid mental health crisis