The man found dead Friday morning at a west Houston police patrol station was a sergeant in the department.
The 21-year Houston Police Department veteran appeared to have killed himself with a single gunshot wound to the head, Police Chief Art Acevedo said. The man was married and had two children, ages 10 and 12.
The man was found around 8:35 a.m. inside of a stairwell on the fourth floor at the Westside Patrol Station, where he worked, at 3203 South Dairy Ashford, Acevedo said. The fourth floor is not currently in use by the department, so no one heard the gunshot.
Officers working in the Westside Patrol Station decided to search the facility after they discovered at 7 a.m. the sergeant had not come to work.
“You can’t explain these things,” Acevedo said. “We ask that people please just pray for the family, pray for those young children.”
Police have not yet released the sergeant’s name, and the investigation continues. HPD psychological services and chaplain services are on site at the Westside Patrol Station.
More law enforcement officers die each year by suicide than in the line of duty, according to the .
Risk factors for officers include “exposure to violence, suicide, or other job-related stressors; depression, anxiety, or other mental illness; substance abuse; domestic abuse; access to means to killoneself (e.g., firearms); and poor physical health,” according to research cited by the .
An expert who studies police suicide, John Volanti, found that officers actually have a suicide rate than the general public (12 per 100,000 versus 13 per 100,000). He that police have are 8 times more likely to die by suicide than homicide and 3 times more likely to die by suicide than by accidents. About 100-150 officers die by suicide each year, Volanti found.
The Volanti’s work in describing the profile of officers most at risk for suicide: “91 percent were male, 63 percent were single, and those between the ages of 40 and 44 with 15 to 19 years of service were most at risk. This profile represents a significant percentage of those currently employed by law enforcement agencies. Some of these officers are experiencing mid-career burnout and malaise, but have too many years invested to change careers and are years away from retirement eligibility.”