The NYPD Suicide Cluster: Clinton Chicanery or Mental Health Crisis?

This week, the cluster of suicides plaguing the NYPD added another name to its tragic ranks today, with news breaking of the suicide of an unnamed veteran officer who worked patrol in the Bronx.

This marks the fourth NYPD officer to die by their own hand in June. First there was 38 year NYPD veteran Deputy Chief Steven Silks of the Patrol Borough Queens North, who was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot on June 5th. The next day, the body of veteran Brooklyn Homicide Detective Joseph Calabrese was discovered in a grove of bushes near a beach, also dead by his own hand. Then on the 14th, a Staten Island patrolman, with six years of experience, killed himself behind his precinct.

The four suicides have been deemed a “mental health crisis” in the NYPD, shedding light on the high suicide rates of police officers around the country.

Sadly, they’ve also been latched onto by conspiracy theorists as part of both the QAnon conspiracy and the ever-expanding “Clinton Body Count” – the list of people supposedly killed by the Clintons over the last four decades.

As the nebulous theory goes, all four of these officers had some kind of link either to the Clintons, to human trafficking, or to the mysterious (and supposedly horrific) contents of Anthony Weiner’s laptop. Because in conspiracy theory circles, no event happens either on its own or coincidentally, these four “suicides” must all be murders, and the officers must all be connected to each other. Because “things like this don’t just happen.”

Even a cursory glance at the career histories of these four NYPD officers falsifies these claims, though. The names of the most recent suicides haven’t been released, but we know from their assignments that they literally all worked in different boroughs.

There’s no known link between the Clintons and either Silks or Calabrese, and not much reason why two random patrol officers would be linked to them either. The NYPD has 55,000 employees and 38,000 uniformed officers – most have no link to each other beyond who they work for, doing vastly different jobs with different objectives.

Beyond that, the “Weiner laptop” conspiracy doesn’t hold up either. The NYPD had investigated Weiner’s underage sexting proclivities, but never made an arrest, and it was eventually the FBI who took him into custody. The only sources claiming the existence of “stomach-turning” emails on the laptop that would “put Hillary and her crew away for life” quote a fake story from notorious garbage website True Pundit. It was the FBI that executed a search warrant on the laptop, in September 2016, finding a slew of emails, most of which were duplicates that had already been reviewed. QAnon has even used these claims before, making several drops insinuating that two officers murdered in mid-2017 were “187’d” because they “viewed the insurance file” supposedly held on the laptop. It wasn’t true then, and it’s not true now.

Finally, the notion that “things like this never happen” is also wrong. More police officers died by suicide than any other cause in 2018, far outnumbering gunfire or accidents. New York had 10 officer suicides in 2018, and given the proven phenomenon of suicide clusters, it’s not shocking that one high ranking officer ending their own life would beget more.

There is simply nothing about these suicides that invites conspiracy theory or salacious gossip, other than them coming close together – and we already know that such a phenomenon is not unusual. Pinning them on the Clintons or “the cabal” is simply a lazy way of ignoring a looming mental health crisis, and of exploiting the pain of people clearly feeling like they had nowhere else to go.

So in that respect, it’s pretty much like every other conspiracy theory out there.

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