QUEENS — An off-duty police sergeant died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound Tuesday night, an NYPD spokesperson said.
Authorities responded to a call around 9:30 p.m., after his wife found him when she got home, according to the police.
The 33-year-old officer was taken to an area hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Sergeant Linhong Li was a seven-year veteran of the NYPD.
Nine NYPD officers and a retired sergeant have died by suicide this year.
"Police suicides have become a mental health crisis of epic proportions," Sergeants Benevolent Association President Ed Mullins said. "While we can speculate about what demons caused Sgt. Li to take such drastic action, what is undeniable is that more police officers commit suicide each year than are killed by armed adversaries."
He's calling for innovative action and said the SBA launch a confidential physical/mental wellness program.
John Petrullo is the director of POPPA, Police Organization Providing Peer Assistance, a completely volunteer, peer based program created in 1996 in response to 26 suicides within the NYPD in 1995. POPPA is cops helping cops and the foundation of their work is an active hotline manned 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They said this year there was a noticeable increase in the calls they received.
POPPA works independent of the NYPD, but receives the department’s wholehearted support and partnership though no information is ever exchanged between the two groups. Anonymity and privacy when dealing with suicide prevention, particularly amongst members of law enforcement is crucial to the work they provide.
PIX11 has organized resources available to officers and their loved ones here, at PIX11.com/OfficerMentalHealth.
The NYPD offers multiple resources for the emotional and physical toll the job takes on those in the force.
On their website, the NYPD lists numbers for their Employee Assistance Unit, Chaplain’s Unit, peer assistance program, and other resources.
The NYPD also recommends POPPA — Police Organization Providing Peer Assistance. It’s a “volunteer police support network committed exclusively to providing a confidential, safe and supportive environment for police officers and retirees.” Their helpline is 1-888-COPS-COP (1-888-267-7267).
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, contact the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255). It’s a free, 24/7 service that offers support, information, and local resources. You can also click here for additional hotlines within the tri-state area and the nation.
Depression and suicidal thoughts are often exhibited in many ways. Warning signs for suicide can include, but are not limited to, talking about wanting to die; conveying feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness or being a burden; and displaying extreme moods.
If someone you know exhibits warning signs of suicide, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention advises that you do not leave the person alone, call a prevention hotline, and take the person to an emergency room or seek help from a medical or mental health professional.
For more information on suicide prevention, including additional resources and warning signs, you can visit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s website.