NYPD commissioner makes plea to officers after recent suicides

For immediate help if you are in a crisis, call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), which is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All calls are confidential.

New York — Another New York City officer has taken his life, the second NYPD suicide in two days. The police commissioner has declared a mental health crisis in the department.

Robert Echeverria died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at his home on Wednesday night. The 25-year veteran officer’s suicide, came less than a day after a 35-year-old officer took his own life.

Commissioner James O’Neill is still struggling with the news. 

“You know, you think, OK, this is gonna be the last one. And last night I got a phone call and it just almost knocked me down. It just took the wind right out of me, you know, what the hell’s going on here,” O’Neill said.

So far this year, there have been nine NYPD suicides. Last year, there were a total of four.

“There’s people out there that love you and want to help you. But unless you come forward, unless your partner says something, or friend, we’re not gonna know,” O’Neill said.

What New York City is experiencing is part of a nationwide trend in policing. Since January, there have been at least 125 officers who have died by suicide, according to Blue H.E.L.P., a non-profit charitable organization. According to one study, cops are 30% more likely to die by suicide than the general public.

Police departments, like the NYPD, are expanding the safety net by offering more counseling and avenues for officers to seek help anonymously. 

It’s a loss Douglas Budney knows. His son, Nicholas, was a 14-year NYPD officer who took his own life last year.

“I just think it was a bad last decision that he made not thinking all the way through,” he said.

In a profanity laced statement Thursday, the police union was critical of the city’s response to the suicides. It accused the department of destroying the careers of officers who reach out for help.

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