Death of NYPD officer intensifies conversation over well-being of law enforcement

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The death of an NYPD officer from Yonkers has intensified the conversation over the well-being of law enforcement. 

Officer Johnny Rios was found dead at his home on Shoreview Drive in Crestwood Tuesday at 3 a.m.

Rios, who was assigned to Yankee Stadium detail, was the eighth NYPD officer to take his own life this year, a significant jump over the recent average of four to five.

It all points to an ongoing trend of officers struggling with stress and trauma they are confronted with on the job.

New York State Attorney General Letitia James issued a statement Wednesday evening saying, "I join with everyone in this city in encouraging any law enforcement officer struggling with depression to know that you are not alone and that help is always available."

“Suicide has always been more prevalent in our world, in the police world than in most worlds.  That extra scrutiny and having everything that you do judged by the entire world, there’s a lot of pressure on police officers,” says Yonkers PBA President Keith Olson.

Olson wants to remind officers of the resources they have available including a suicide outreach program and a peer support network.

"Police officers today see the worst of everything. I just talked to a young officer the other day, a brand-new officer who's been to four deaths, one of which was the suicide of this police officer. Four deaths in a couple of weeks. When you see those things, they wear on you," says Olson.

The NYPD also tweeted yesterday in response to Rios' death, calling on officers to take advantage of the department's hotlines and help groups.

Despite the available resources, officers continue to lose their battles with mental health issues.

A 2018 study found police have post-traumatic stress disorder and depression rates as much as five times higher than the public, which may be why that same study found officers are more likely to commit suicide than die in the line of duty.

"We beg them to reach out to somebody. Reach out to a peer support member, reach out to your partner, your mother or father, or your sister. anybody. There's always help," says Olson.

On Wednesday evening, police say a ninth NYPD officer took his own life in Queens.

 

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