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3rd suspected suicide in less than 2 weeks for NY police

NEW YORK — New York City police say a 29-year-old officer died Friday in the department’s third suspected suicide in less than two weeks.

Police say he shot himself in the head around 3:45 p.m. on a Staten Island street near the 121st Precinct to which the officer was assigned. His identity had not been released as of late Friday.

Last week, two longtime officers died in suspected suicides within 24 hours of each other. Deputy Chief Steven Silks was found dead in a police vehicle in Queens on June 5. Detective Joseph Calabrese was found the next day at a Brooklyn beach.

Police say both died from self-inflicted gunshot wounds to the head.

In the wake of the deaths, 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 otherwise contemplating self-harm.

“This is about keeping our family healthy — and about saving lives,” O’Neill wrote. “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.”

After Friday’s suspected suicide, O’Neill and Chief of Department Terence Monahan retweeted a message from the NYPD’s Talk to Me program encouraging officers in crisis to text a special help line.

The New York City officers’ suicides come amid a rising nationwide trend: More than 47,000 U.S. suicides were reported in 2017, or 14 per 100,000 — the highest rate in at least half a century.

Among police, at least 159 officers died by suicide in 2018, according to Blue H.E.L.P., a Massachusetts-based organization devoted to preventing police suicides.

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