A high-ranking detective was found dead of an apparent suicide in Brooklyn on Thursday, one day after a veteran NYPD chief took his own life in Queens.
The body of Joseph Calabrese, a 58-year-old homicide detective, was discovered on the north shore of Rockaway Inlet on Thursday afternoon. According to multiple reports, he was found near bushes in Plumb Beach, dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Calabrese's car had been abandoned near the Belt Parkway at around 3 a.m. on Thursday morning, prompting a search of the area.
While the manhunt for Calabrese continued, officers were mourning the loss of another longtime NYPD leader. Deputy Chief Steven Silks, executive officer of the Patrol Borough Queens North, was found dead on Wednesday in his unmarked patrol car near Forest Hills stadium. He was 62 years old, and just a few weeks away from his mandatory retirement.
Silks had 38 years on the job, while Calabrese had 37. The latter was also a longtime board member of the Detectives' Endowment Association. In a statement to the Daily News, DEA President Michael Palladino said he was "shocked and shattered beyond belief," noting that Calabrese was a "dedicated detective, union official, husband and father. He was the salt of the earth."
As news of the back-to-back suicides shook the department, Police Commissioner James O'Neill published a letter urging officers to seek out professional help if they're struggling.
"We are mourning the death of two members of our NYPD family this week, both of whom died by suicide in separate incidents less than 24 hours apart," he wrote. "Whether you are depressed, going through a separation, having financial difficulties, feeling anxiety, or anything else, you are never alone. Nothing is ever hopeless."
O'Neill released a similar message last year, after three members of the NYPD took their own lives in the span of just two months. Following that uptick, the department expanded its range of mental health services offered to police officers.
Multiple studies have shown that suicide rates are higher among law enforcement than civilians. Recent research by the Ruderman Foundation also found that a higher number of police officers die by suicide than those killed in the line of duty.
"We cannot hide from this incredibly important discussion," O'Neill added. "We must not pretend that these things don't happen, or that such tragic deaths are somehow a fact of life. Importantly, we cannot sit idly by and just pray that they don't happen again. We have to take action now. We have to discuss mental health."
If someone you know exhibits warning signs of suicide: do not leave the person alone; remove any firearms, alcohol, drugs or sharp objects that could be used in a suicide attempt; and call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or take the person to an emergency room or seek help from a medical or mental health professional.