STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. – According to multiple reports, a retired NYPD sergeant has taken his own life on Staten Island Monday morning.
This marks the latest in a tragic string of suicides from officers in New York City this year. The 48-year-old retired officer remains unidentified at this time in an effort to provide support for his family during this difficult experience.
A report from the Post said that the sergeant had died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head while sitting inside of his vehicle in a transit parking lot on Arthur Kill Road near Richmond Avenue.
On average, the NYPD loses between four and five officers a year to suicide. So far this year, they’ve reached 10.
Robert Echeverria was off-duty when he shot himself in the head on August 14. Police got a call from Echeverria’s wife, who found her husband unresponsive on the ground with a gun nearby on his bed.
He was rushed to North Shore-Long Island Jewish Hospital where he was later pronounced dead.
Echeverria had served in the NYPD for 25 years and was a part of the elite Strategic Response Group, a team of law enforcement officials that are assigned to mass shootings, large protests and similar events.
He was the ninth NYPD officer to die by suicide in 2019, and the second in a week. He took his own life just one day after 35-year-old city offer Johnny Rios fatally shot himself at his home in Yonkers. At the time of his death, Rios was temporarily assigned to detail surrounding Yankee Stadium.
— Siglov Freudivan (@DerangedRadio) September 3, 2019
Reports circulating that outside mental health staff will be brought into every police facility. The hope is to have a watchful eye present and to have a door open for officers to walk into.
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For officers who still fear opening up to department services and or staff, know that there are protections for you. If you’re still conflicted, don’t go it alone, outside sources are another avenue to explore.
By stepping outside of the traditional programs, officers that fear they’ll jeopardize their career can seek help anonymously early on. Services like those provided by Lemonaid Health allow for officers to receive assistance via an app-based system that also allows for a slew of other health services.
This option does provide the protections through HIPPA same as going through your own insurance. Check them out at http://lemonaid.com or download their app in the Google or Apple store.
In a press conferences, Police Commissioner James O’Neill said an average of between four and five officers have killed themselves in the NYPD over the past five years.
But just since June, there have been eight of the ten NYPD suicides this year.
This is such a tragedy. 10th NYPD suicide this year.
We need to do more to connect cops to the support they need, from both professionals and peers.
— Mark D. Levine (@MarkLevineNYC) September 3, 2019
That high volume of suicides is leading some 800 executive NYPD staff to begin training with mental health experts to combat the uptick in suicides, according to O’Neill.
He said goal is to eventually retrain the entire department.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, a 2020 presidential candidate who routinely condemns his own police force, took to Twitter after the string of suicides.
“Tonight our city mourns a tragedy. We won’t let anyone struggle alone,” the mayor wrote. “I want every one of New York’s Finest to know we are here for you. We value you. Help is available. Please reach out.”
We need to start having more conversations about Post Traumatic Stress… and we need to start having them at the federal level to protect our officers.