Fifth NYPD Officer Committing Suicide In June Prompts ‘Mental Health Crisis’

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The New York Police Department continues to suffer a ”mental health crisis,” as the agency reports another death of one of its police officers due to suicide.

Reportedly, Sergeant Terrence McAvoy, a 30-year-old transit cop, was found dead on July 27 afternoon in New Dorp.

NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan said Saturday that the body was found with a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Authorities believe that due to the trauma that led to the eventual death, McAvoy may have committed suicide while he was off-duty.

According to an FDNY spokesperson, emergency personnel discovered the victim in critical condition and performed CPR on the site, but were unable to resuscitate. An NYPD spokesperson confirmed that the officer was shot and died from his injuries at that location.

The Sergeants Benevolent Association said on social media Saturday that the late officer was a sergeant, but neither the union nor the NYPD has identified the officer.

”The tragic news today that another member of the NYPD has been lost to suicide breaks our hearts and is a profound sorrow felt by all of New York City,” NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill said in a statement.

In June, O’Neill had already called the sudden rise of suicide amongst NYPD police officers a mental health crisis.

Today’s death marks the fifth reported suicide incident in the NYPD since June 5, and a total of seven this year.

In light of the situation, O’Neill expressed in a statement that police officers should seek help if they are going through mental health issues

“To every member of the NYPD, please know this: it is okay to feel vulnerable,” O’Neill said in a statement Saturday. “It is okay if you are facing struggles. And it is okay to seek help from others. You may not know this, and it may be hard to imagine, but you are not out there all by yourself,” the officer added.

O’Neill recognizes the fact that in a male-dominant field of occupation, the pressures of what society deems as a man often results with them bottling feelings and emotions that eventually becomes too overwhelming.

As a result, suicide affects men more than any demographic on a global scale. 

A report on depression and mental illness by the Canadian Mental Health Association rightly stresses that in a community that celebrates masculine qualities, there is little patience for any show of weakness.

In a recent white paper commissioned by the Ruderman Family Foundation, a philanthropic organization, police officers and firefighters are much more likely to die by suicide than in the line of duty. 

”More people than you know, who wear the same uniform as you do, share the same doubts and fears and struggles that you do. Seeking help is a strength. Talking about your problems is a strength. Acknowledging you need a place to turn is a strength. There is no shame here — only a promise to provide you with the help and support you need and deserve, ” O’Neill said.

On June 5, Deputy Chief Steven Silks, 62, was found dead in a police vehicle in Queens just days away from retirement. Twenty-four hours later, Detective Joseph Calabrese, 58, was found dead at Brooklyn’s Plumb Beach.

Just a few days later, a 29-year-old officer died outside a precinct on Staten Island. Kevin Preiss, 53, a 24-year veteran of the force, was found dead at his Long Island home at the end of the month.

In a recently conducted survey, 78 percent of police officers across the country reported experiencing critical stress on the job, with 68 percent saying that stress triggered unresolved emotional issues.

Additionally, 16 percent of officers said that they had thoughts of suicide.

In 2017, 140 police officer suicides we’re reported nationwide. On the contrary, only 129 police officers died in the line of duty. 

O’Neill also emphasized that ”the NYPD and the law enforcement profession as a whole absolutely must take action. We must take care of each other; we must address this issue — now.”

”First responders are heroes who run towards danger every day to save the lives of others,” Ruderman Family Foundation president Jay Ruderman said in a statement Thursday.

“They are also human beings, and their work exerts a toll on their mental health. It is our obligation to support them in every way possible – to make sure that they feel welcome and able to access life-saving mental health care.”

“We need to end the silence that surrounds the issue of first responder mental health,” Ruderman added. 

If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text HOME to 741741 or visit SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional resources.

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