Off-Duty NYPD Officer Dies After Self-Inflicted Gunshot Wound in Queens; Tenth Officer to Die From Suicide in 2019

If you are in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or reach out to the Crisis Text Line by texting 'Home' to 741741

What to Know

  • An NYPD cop died after being found in with a self-inflicted gunshot wound in his home in Queens Tuesday night, according to police
  • The officer, who has not been identified, was found with the gunshot wound at 178th Street and Union Turnpike in the Utopia neighborhood
  • The officer's death marks the tenth suicide by a member of the NYPD so far in 2019, the eighth since June

An off-duty NYPD officer died after being found with a self-inflicted gunshot wound late Tuesday, police said.

The officer, identified by Assemblyman David Weprin as Linhong Li of the 24th precinct, was found with the gunshot wound at 178th Street and Union Turnpike in the Utopia neighborhood, according to police.

He was transported to Queens General Hospital, where he later died, police said.

"Our police officers face multiple stresses and traumas on the job each day while protecting us and I urge our officers to seek assistance when necessary and take advantage of the NYPD’s mental health services," Weprin said in a statement. "Officer Li will be remembered as a dedicated public servant and his passing is a great loss for the Borough of Queens and New York City. My heartfelt condolences go out to his wife and family at this difficult time." 

The officer’s death marks the 10th time a member of the NYPD has died from suicide so far in 2019.

"We are hurting right now, it’s been a very tough year," said NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea after the suicide of 56-year-old officer Robert Echeverria in August. "From the unions, to the membership, to the executives in the police department — we’re all feeling it. And we're all trying as best as we can to work together to come up with initiatives to do more. Everyone wants the same thing here."

The suicide escalates a recent crisis that has caused all levels of police leadership to speak out on the need for cops to look after their mental health and that of their colleagues. 

New York City’s top cop is asking members of the NYPD to seek help if they need it in the wake of the suicide deaths of two officers in less than 24 hours. David Ushery reports.

The most recent officers' death follows the June 5 suicide of Deputy Chief Steven Silks, the June 6 death of Det. Joseph Calabrese, the June 14 death of Officer Michael Caddy at the 121st Precinct in Staten Island, the June 27 death of Officer Kevin Preiss at his Long Island home, the July 27 death of Sergeant Terrance McAvoy at his Staten Island home, the August 13 death of Officer Johnny Rios and the August 14 death of Officer Echeverria.

The officer was found dead in his Yonkers home from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. Now the NYPD is looking into what may have caused the recent rash of police suicides, and are beefing up their efforts to get cops help if they need it. NBC 4 New York’s Pei-Sze Cheng reports.

In June, after the deaths of Silks and Calabrese a day apart, Commissioner James O'Neill spoke exclusively with News 4 about the need for cops to seek help if they find themselves contemplating taking their own lives.

"To have two people kill themselves within 10 hours is just - nothing brings us to our knees, but this is close," O'Neill said.

He also sent a note to all 55,000 officers and civilian employees of the NYPD, saying in part, "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."

The officers' deaths come after News 4 highlighted growing concerns among members of law enforcement regarding police suicides. An I-Team survey of police across the country found 78% experienced critical stress on the job, with 68% saying that stress triggered unresolved emotional issues. 

As the NYPD tries to battle a suicide crisis among its officers, one thing hindering the efforts is the same thought that runs among cops — seeking help is often seen as weakness, and the repercussions are seen as a “punishment.” The I-Team’s Pei-Sze Cheng reports.

Sixteen percent said that they had thoughts of suicide. Despite those numbers nine out of 10 officers said there is a stigma attached to seeking help. 

"This has to be a continuous process. This has to be done at roll calls. This has to be done in video training," O'Neill said. "We need to talk about this. This can’t be a deep dark secret. People have to understand that there is help available." 

O'Neill has asked NYPD officers and employees who need help to call the department's employee assistance hotline at 646-610-6730.

For more on the NYPD suicide crisis tune in to the latest episode of ‘The Debrief’ podcast. NBC 4’s David Ushery speaks with reporter Pei-Sze Cheng on how stigma and fear of repercussions within the NYPD is stopping cops with mental health problems from coming forward. Listen on Apple podcasts here or on all other devices here.

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If you or someone you know is in a crisis, including at risk of suicide or self-harm, help is available. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Trained counselors are available 24/7.

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