The death of Kevin Preiss comes as three other officers from the department took their own lives in the space of two weeks, sparking conversation within the NYPD about the importance of taking care of mental health and looking out for colleagues.
BREAKING | Off-duty NYPD officer commits suicide in Long Island; fourth NYC cop to take own life this month
The cop was found dead in Nassau County from “what appears to be a self-inflicted injury” — the sixth cop to die by their own hand this year.https://t.co/MoX2M0HPPr — New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) 27 June 2019
Preiss, who was stationed at the 50th Precinct, was found dead on the porch of his Hicksville, Long Island, home late Wednesday, June 26, with a gunshot wound to the head, police and neighbors said.
A source told NBC News on June 27 that the 53-year-old shot himself at around 10 p.m. He leaves behind a wife and several children.
His neighbor, Ellen McGreevy, told the New York Daily News, said she couldn’t imagine what could have driven him to take his own life.
“It’s horrible that a person would be driven to that—not be able to get the help they need and feel so helpless,” she said.
Police Commissioner James O’Neill has declared a mental health crisis in the department amid a recent string of officer suicides.
This month has seen a spate of suicides within the NYPD. On June 5, Deputy Chief Steven Silks was found dead in a police vehicle in Queens. The next day, detective Joseph Calabrese was found at a Brooklyn beach, while Michael Caddy, 29, took his own life eight days later on Staten Island.
Preiss is believed to be the sixth officer to have died by suicide this year, officers said, according to the Daily News.
O’Neill has sent messages reminding officers of available resources and urging them to seek help.
Preiss, who was a married father-of-three, was dubbed a “hero” by an officer who visited his home on June 27.
“He was a hero, he saved babies and everything,” the officer told the Daily News.
In Dec. 2015, Preiss helped to save the life of a man who suffered a heart attack at a Dunkin’ Donuts near Manhattan College. He and his partner performed CPR on the victim, which brought him back to life.
Kevin Preiss, a longtime New York Police Department officer at the 50th Precinct, took his own life outside his Nassau County home Wednesday night, according to public media reports.
Speaking to the Riverdale Press after the incident, Preiss said helping those in need was the most enjoyable part of his job.
“We do a lot of what you call lift jobs where we help old people that fall out of bed—that’s the kind of thing that I enjoy.”
Members of the non-profit suicide prevention group, Police Organization Providing Peer Assistance (POPPA), which provides support for NYPD officers, have expressed concern amid the escalating crisis within the department.
As a doc+NYPD family member I say thanks @NYPDChiefofDept for your ongoing effort to destigmatize police stress+reaching out for assistance to save careers, families+prevent suicides.@poppanyc#StopTheStigma
“Fourth NYPD suicide in very short time frame. NYPD Officers-look In the mirror-take a good look at your coworker. See a 1085 or 1013-ask for help. Ask your partner are you ok?” POPPA psychiatrist and medical adviser Frank Dowling wrote on Twitter.
“Tell them to get help. POPPA. Confidential. Career saving. Family saving. Life saving. @poppanyc,” Dowling wrote.
Speaking of the recent suicide of 62-year-old Deputy Chief Steven Silks, NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan published a video on Twitter, calling him a “friend & a great cop dedicated to service for 38 years.”
Deputy Chief Steve Silks was a friend & a great cop dedicated to service for 38 years. As we mourn his tragic loss, know YOU’RE NEVER ALONE — no matter your rank or time on the job. Don’t hesitate to ask for help. Share this video to provide options for assistance. #StopSuicide pic.twitter.com/yXeSWLVxQ5
— Chief Terence Monahan (@NYPDChiefofDept) 6 June 2019
“As we mourn his tragic loss, know YOU’RE NEVER ALONE—no matter your rank or time on the job. Don’t hesitate to ask for help. Share this video to provide options for assistance. #StopSuicide,” Monahan wrote on Twitter.
Last year, at least 159 police officers in the United States took their own lives, according to research from Blue H.E.L.P., a Massachusetts-based organization devoted to preventing police suicides.
The NYPD’s Employee Assistance Unit can be reached at (646) 610-6750, and POPPA can be contacted at (888) 267-7267.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.