- An NYPD officer reportedly died by suicide Tuesday after being transferred to restricted duty.
- He jumped from a building next to the offices where officers’ health assessments are conducted.
- One expert told insider cops that they’re more likely to harm themselves when investigating or changing duty.
A New York City Police Department officer committed suicide Tuesday after he was reportedly given a restricted assignment and his service handgun confiscated.
Just after noon today, the officer – whose name was not released by police pending notification of next of kin – jumped from a Queens apartment building next to the NYPD Medical Division, where mental and physical health assessments are conducted for the department, The reported DailyMail.
In an email to Insider, police confirmed that the officer was a five-year veteran of the force and had been assigned to the 121st Precinct on Staten Island.
The New York Daily News reported that the officer was recently placed on reduced duty and was struggling with his mental health, adding that he just walked out of a department-mandated psychiatrist appointment before his death.
“Please help me,” the NYPost reported, the official wrote in a social media post in November. “Please love me. please take care of me please listen to me PLEASE COMMUNICATE WITH ME. PLEASE SPEND TIME FOR ME!”
The NYPD did not respond to Insider’s request for clarification as to whether the change in the officer’s assignment was due to disciplinary action or an internal investigation, or general concerns about his well-being.
Steve Hough, a 20-year law enforcement veteran and COO of First Help, a mental health nonprofit that tracks first responder suicides, told Insider officials they are often at a higher risk of injury when they are strayed from their regular assignment are or will be investigated.
“We’re seeing — I don’t want to say we’re seeing a lot, but we’re getting a lot of reports from officers who have committed suicide because they’re under internal investigation,” Hough told Insider. “Or because they were preparing to be arrested.”
Hough said officers who die by suicide often have additional aggravating factors, such as divorce or money problems, but when their service weapon is confiscated or an investigation is initiated, they can feel alienated from their work community, which is often deeply intertwined with an officer’s mind is personal identity.
“We see this culture where mental issues are seen as a sign of weakness,” Hough told Insider. “And there’s very little support from people like me who’ve been there for 25 years and aren’t used to dealing with mental fitness.”
Because of that internal culture — and a feeling that officers should be the ones providing aid rather than receiving it — Hough said officers are unlikely to share their struggles with others in their department.
“We definitely know that the stigma attached to it is the number one reason they don’t ask for help,” Hough said. “It’s this fear of, ‘If I say that, what will happen to my career, what will happen?'”
The NYPD has long faced a mental health crisis among its officers. Ten NYPD officers died by suicide in 2019, NBC News reported, prompting the department to order its officers to complete mandatory suicide prevention training, according to Staten Island Live. Since training and launching multiple peer-to-peer outreach groups, four NYPD officers have died by suicide in 2020 and three in 2021, the New York Post reported. Four NYPD officers died by suicide last year, according to the Daily Mail.
“I want every member of the NYPD to know that your department is here for you,” Commissioner Keechant L. Sewell said in a statement offering his condolences to the officer’s family and those of NYPD officials via email was sent to Insiders.
Sewell’s statement added: “Before we can help others, we have to make sure we’re okay too. For our members who are struggling, I urge you to reach out to the resources available to you for help – either inside or outside the department. Asking for help is one of the bravest things you can do.”