10th NYPD officer dies by suicide in 2019

NEW YORK (WABC) -- The NYPD confirms that an off-duty NYPD sergeant died by suicide Tuesday night.

The 33-year-old sergeant reportedly died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound and was pronounced dead at Jamaica Hospital in Queens at 10 p.m.

Authorities say the 7-year veteran shot himself in the head at his home.

He is the 10th NYPD officer to die from suicide in 2019.

"Each time it happens, you think, alright, we have to do more," NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill said. "We have to try our best. Then the phone call comes, and you find out another person killed themselves. It's absolutely devastating to all of us."

Law enforcement leaders across the country are sounding the alarm over a suicide crisis affecting officers from departments nationwide.

Even with 20 years of service as one of New York's Finest, retired officer John Petrullo cannot pinpoint a reason for the string of officer suicides this year.

"It's just very difficult to put our finger on the pulse, so we just do what we do?" he said. "Outreach, and cover topics like suicide awareness."

Petrullo heads the Police Organization Providing Peer Assistance - or POPPA. The organization now has on its website a confidential, printable questionnaire designed for officers coping with stress, trauma or depression. They fill it out, in private, at home, and a high score means it's time get help -- help that just might prevent another suicide.

"They can go and print it out and have it in their hand and not show it to anybody, but I recommend that they do it," Petrullo said. "Do it on a monthly basis and just scale it, see how they're doing from month to month."

New York City council members introduced legislation last month requiring the police department to contract a specific number of licensed clinicians to provide mental health support and awareness to all New York City police officers.

The bill also includes annual first responder wellness sessions available to all members.

If you are a member of the NYPD in crisis or know someone who is, you can text "Blue" to 741741 for help.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals. The number to call is 1-800-273-8255.

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