LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department is in mourning after four current and former employees died by suicide within a 24-hour period.
"It's a brotherhood and sisterhood at the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, so any loss is tragic, it's emotional," Sheriff Robert Luna told Eyewitness News.
The deaths were reported Monday and Tuesday. The department says three were active members of the agency and one was retired.
"If you're not OK, it's OK to ask for help. It's OK to say you're not OK," Luna said.
The Sheriff's Department says nine current or former employees died by suicide so far this year. Studies show that across the country more officers die from suicide than are killed in the line of duty.
Data going back to 2018 shows the pattern. Just last year, according to the FBI, 118 officers died in the line of duty. Blue H.E.L.P., a nonprofit that collects data on law enforcement suicides, estimated 161 suicides that same year.
Laura Linder is the founder of Exclusively First Responders, which tries to create awareness about mental health issues for law enforcement.
"They're overworked, but mostly the mental health that happens to them based on the traumas that they're seeing on a daily basis," Linder said. "They're human, that's going to affect them."
The department is looking at the cases. So far, they do not appear to be connected.
The sheriff agrees the department, which is the largest in the nation, doesn't have enough deputies.
"As we dissect each one of them. I'm not saying that all of them are the same," Luna said. "We look for patterns, but we have a staffing crisis with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. We are short-handed well over 1,000 deputies."
If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, there are ways to get help. Just call or text the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 at any time.