NEW YORK (FOX 5 NY) - After yet another NYPD officer committed suicide this year on Wednesday, a parade of officials have called it part of ‘a crisis,’ asking officers to seek help and take mental health issues seriously.
But for some family members of officers who killed themselves, it’s too little, too late.
“My final words to the lieutenant who called me and to the therapist were, ‘When my brother kills himself or somebody else, this is on you. This blood is on you,’” said Eileen Echeverria.
Eileen’s brother, 56-year-old Robert Echeverria was the NYPD’s ninth suicide of 2019 and Eileen says she had tried to warn police multiple times over a period of seven years that her brother posed a risk to himself and others.
“I knew he was unraveling. He had financial problems, he had other mental problems,” Echeverria said.
According to her, the NYPD confiscated and then returned Robert’s guns multiple times, including once in June, after promising her he’d never get them back.
“I'm telling you, this could have been avoided,” Echeverria said.
Retired NYPD Detective Tom Verni says that all police officers have always suffered from some degree of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, a mental health issue that can develop after a person is exposed to a traumatic event.
“The stress that they obtain on a daily basis is unbelievable, and they need an outlet for that,” Verni said. “Now it’s cops, robbers and terrorists. So that alone makes the job much more stressful than it ever has been.”
“Every cop out there is struggling,” Echeverria said. “There’s no respect for them anymore. They’re getting buckets of water thrown on them, they’re getting spit at.”
For Echeverria, there is a lack of effort to help police officers deal with the mental burden of the policing climate today, and she wants her brother’s death to be the last in this string of police suicides. However, she also blames the NYPD for his death.
“This blood is all over them,” she said.