Two members of the New York Police Department died by suicide within the course of 24 hours, Commissioner James O’Neill said Thursday.
In a note to members of the department, he encouraged individuals to seek help if needed, saying the NYPD is the largest police department in the United States, with approximately 36,000 officers and 19,000 civilian employees.
O’Neill’s message reads in full:
“We are mourning the death of two members of our NYPD family this week, both of whom died by suicide in separate incidents less than 24 hours apart. “Whether you are depressed, going through a separation, having financial difficulties, feeling anxiety, or anything else, you are never alone. Nothing is ever hopeless.
“We cannot hide from this incredibly important discussion. We must not pretend that these things don’t happen, or that such tragic deaths are somehow a fact of life. Importantly, we cannot sit idly by and just pray that they don’t happen again. We have to take action now. We have to discuss mental health.
“Each of us is dedicated to the important business of fighting crime and keeping New Yorkers safe. And this is an immensely tough job. But your personal life can be even tougher. You may have no idea your office coworker — or your sector partner, even — is dealing with a challenge for which they see no positive resolution.
“But you need to know, and always remember: What seems unbearable today, absolutely will be more manageable tomorrow. The first step toward a solution is speaking to someone. And if you’re worried about a friend or colleague, you can make a confidential referral to our Employee Assistance Unit on their behalf.
“This is about keeping our family healthy — and about saving lives. Your jobs require that you spend so much of your work day helping people in crisis. But, before you can take care of others, it’s imperative that you first take care of yourselves.
“Seeking help is never a sign of weakness — it’s a sign of great strength. Trained members will listen and connect you with even more help, around the clock. I implore you to seek out — or to help others find — the assistance that is so readily available to us all. “Thank you for what you do every day and, please, always stay safe.”
James P. O’Neill