Last week, another off-duty sergeant committed suicide, which was the tenth case in 2019. Following the event, the police department in New York City jointed the national efforts to support its officers in overcoming the crisis.
The rate of deaths by suicide in New York has doubled this year. This is a serious problem that many people consider to be a crisis.
That’s why New York’s Mayor and Police Commissioner announced a new program on Wednesday in cooperation with New York Presbyterian Hospital to provide confidential counseling, mental health services, and prescription drug. All of them are free.
Known as the Finest Care, the campaign plans to connect officers with mental experts in different centers in the city. This decision is based on research results that nearly 25 percent of police officers have suicidal thoughts during their lives.
A recent report suggested that policeman is one of the most stressful jobs in the United States. However, they usually do not seek support due to the general culture of “tough and brave guy.” Many policemen believe that the decision to get help would damage what they have been building during their careers.
“Our policemen are supposed to be tough – that is what they are always told,” said the Police Commissioner. “And in many cases, the most significant challenge for them is to know it is totally fine to seek assistance. You are always helping other people – and sometimes you might need help, in return.”
The current campaign is anonymous for this reason. An important thing is that the police department will not keep the records, but the hospital. They only know the total number of officers who use the services.
Some other police departments in many cities have implemented similar campaigns:
– San Antonio police department cooperates with an initiative so that its officers would seek mental help from the University of Texas.
– In Charlotte-Mecklenburg, North Carolina, policemen would look for outside support and get financial assistance from their department
– In Dallas, some medical and academic institutions offer mental health programs for policemen.
In fact, the New York initiative has been existing for a few years. However, these mental health services were not available until recently.
“Ten officers committed suicides. How would I not regret that fact?” said the Police Commissioner. “I was a policeman for many years, so I understand what they must face in their daily life.”