A 35-year-old, seven-year veteran of the New York Police Department was found dead by suicide Tuesday morning—the eighth NYPD officer to take his own life this year. The New York Times reports that this year's "rash of suicides" has unsettled the department, and puts it on track to have one of the worst years this decade for police suicides. The city's police commissioner, James P. O’Neill, declared a mental health crisis in June after four suicides between June 5 and June 26, and urged any officers who are struggling to get help from department chaplains, phone and text hotlines, and peer support groups. But the department is still fighting to convince officers to get treatment—another suicide followed the June ones, followed by this most recent one—and commanders are again telling officers it's OK to get counseling if needed.
Police in Yonkers responded to a report of suicide in a home around 3am and found the officer, who was off-duty, dead. Research has found that the high stress of a career in police work, plus peer pressure surrounding emotions and toughness and the stigma surrounding mental health treatment, and of course the constant availability of guns, leads cops to be at higher risk of suicide than those in other careers; more police officers die by suicide per year than those killed in the line of duty. Over the past five years, CNN reports, New York has averaged between four and five police suicides per year. Since the June rash, the department has been working on a plan to help, and O'Neill says the goal is for the entire department to eventually get training on mental health, stress, and suicide. The department also plans to put specially trained peer representatives in every precinct. (Read more NYPD stories.)