Police Suicides: Becoming an Epidemic



New York City Police Department (NYPD) officer arrives at 787 7th Avenue in midtown Manhattan where a helicopter was reported to have crashed in New York City, New York, U.S., June 10, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Gianni Martinez, Reporter

On Wednesday, a police officer at the age of 56, took his own life. Robert Echeverría became the ninth NYPD officer to commit suicide, right before officer Johnny Rios, who also killed himself at the age of 35. A rash amount of suicides has shaken the New York Police Department, leading the commissioner to declare a mental health emergency.

The Police Commissioner, James O’Neill sent a note reminding the more than 36,000 officers and 19,000 civilians in the NYPD that help is available if they’re feeling depressed, hopeless, or contemplating self-harm. However, the deaths continued.

“It’s extraordinarily painful,” NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday. “We have lost officers in the past, but this concentration is devastating. We’re going to do everything conceivable to help officers and to stop this.” Law enforcement are trying to change this mindset. Suicide claims have taken more lives of officers than the violence they go through in the line of duty. In 2017, there were at least 140 police suicides, compared to the 129 police officers that died in the line of duty.

Suicide is a result of mental illness, including depression and PTSD, which stems from constant exposure to death and destruction.“First responders are heroes who run towards danger every day in order to save the lives of others. They are also human beings, and their work exerts a toll on their mental health,” said Jay Ruderman, President of the Ruderman Family Foundation.  

Videos have gone viral of three separate water-bucket dousings of uniformed NYPD cops.  “This looks like it’s becoming a disgusting trend,” said one police source. Experts describe the shame and stigma surrounding mental health within professions that prioritize bravery and toughness, and the public remains largely unaware of these issues, since the vast majority of first responder suicides are not covered by the mainstream media. “We need to end the silence that surrounds the issue of first responder mental health. We should celebrate the lives of those lost to suicide,” adds Ruderman.

These deaths are spreading like wildfire and as of right now, cannot be contained. We need to take into consideration that these are not just regular civilians but these are the ones who protect and serve our country.