Policeman dies in apparent suicide fall

May 7, 2007 - 5:54AM

An off-duty NSW policeman has died in a fall from a unit block after earlier threatening to kill himself, just days after the state's police force moved to introduce new mental health safeguards for officers.

NSW Police Force Commissioner Ken Moroney extended his condolences to the 27-year-old officer's family, friends and colleagues yesterday.

The officer died after falling from a third storey window in a block of units in Sydney at about 2.45am (AEST) yesterday.

Police said there were reports of a domestic dispute inside the unit.

The man's partner has been interviewed by police, who say the death is not being treated as suspicious.

Police found the officer's body after being called to the unit block in inner-city Surry Hills after the incident.

The off-duty policeman was threatening to commit suicide with a knife before the fall, reports suggest.

A suicidal NSW highway patrol officer was prevented from taking his life at a Sydney police station last week. The 39-year-old married man was experiencing family problems.

That incident came just ten days after the suspected suicide of ACT police chief Audrey Fagan.

Experts say relationship breakdown is a major factor for police, with many officers tending to have unstable personal relationships.

The weekend's events have again thrown the spotlight on the mental health of police officers and the high rate of suicide within their ranks.

Before yesterday's incident, 14 serving and former NSW officers had taken their own lives in the past seven years, the most recent being 29-year-old constable Greg Norman Lundberg on January 7.

About 200 NSW officers are currently on stress leave.

Mr Moroney last week announced that a program by the Black Dog Institute, an organisation set up to deal with depression, was launched in March to teach senior police officers how to spot stress and depression in their staff.

All officers above the rank of superintendent will have completed the one-day course by the end of the year, and inspectors and sergeants will follow next year.

Other support programs, including peer support officers, are available to all officers.

Mr Moroney said the Wellcheck program, which is aimed at police in high-risk specialist areas such as child abuse and accident investigation, will also be extended to general duties officers.