What to Know
- A sixth NYPD officer has died by suicide in the last two months, officials said Tuesday
- Since the start of June a deputy chief, a senior detective, a sergeant and two patrol officers have also taken their own lives
- NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill has described the rash of suicides as a crisis for the department
A sixth NYPD officer has died by suicide in just the last 10 weeks, escalating 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.
An off-duty NYPD officer died by suicide at his home in Yonkers, a senior official confirmed Tuesday. Police sources told News 4 the officer had been identified as 35-year-old Johnny Rios.
Rios had seven years on the job and was most recently posted to the Bronx. He died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, the source added.
"The NYPD suffered another tragedy today with the loss of another officer to suicide. To those who may be facing struggles - Help is always available, you are not alone," the department tweeted, roughly two hours after news of the officer's death first emerged.
The Yonkers Police Department confirmed that it responded to a home at 3 a.m. Tuesday for a reported suicide of an NYPD officer, and that there were no signs of foul play.
This most recent officer's death follows the June 5 suicide of Deputy Chief Steven Silks, the June 6 death of Det. Joseph Calabrese, the June 14 death of 29-year-old Officer Michael Caddy at the 121st Precinct in Staten Island, the June 27 death of Officer Kevin Preiss at his Long Island home and the July 27 death of Sergeant Terrance McAvoy at his Staten Island home.
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.
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.
More recent coverage:
- Fifth NYPD Officer Dies by Suicide in Two Months
- Fourth NYPD Officer Dies by Suicide in Three Weeks
- Officer Takes Life Outside Staten Island Stationhouse
- NYC's Top Cop Speaks on Mental Health After NYPD Suicides
- Missing NYPD Homicide Detective Found Dead by Suicide
- NYPD Deputy Chief With 38 Years of Service Takes His Own Life
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.