NYPD to adopt new mental health initiatives after spate of suicides

Nine officers and two retired sergeants have taken their lives this year, the NYPD said.

The NYPD announced Tuesday it will act on a dozen recommendations from the Department of Investigation aimed at combating a rise in suicides among its members and retirees.

Police Commissioner James O’Neill said the department agreed with all of the suggestions laid out by the DOI, including bringing in more mental health professionals to treat officers, studying the feasibility of mandatory mental health checkups and creating a longer-term plan for improving mental health and wellness.

"No police officer should be left to struggle alone," DOI Commissioner Margaret Garnett said in a statement. "DOI and NYPD are committed to work[ing] together to successfully address this issue and I thank Police Commissioner O’Neill and his staff who are dedicated to improving these crucial services."

So far this year, nine officers and two retired sergeants have taken their lives, according to the NYPD. 

The NYPD enacted one of the DOI’s recommendations in July while launching a Health and Wellness Task Force that trains officers on how to spot signs a colleague may be struggling and respond appropriately. 

The department now plans to carry out several other suggested tactics, such as creating a wellness outreach unit consisting of teams with a psychologist, a social worker and a police officer. That effort, however, is not yet funded, the NYPD said. 

"After the full rollout, the unit will consist of approximately 58 teams, or one team per 1,000 members of the service," the NYPD said in its written response to the DOI.

The department also said it would establish a training program that helps retirees adjust to civilian life and offers them support services for a "reasonable period of time" after leaving the force. 

"As an organization, we are dedicated to ensuring that every member of the service is supported in seeking help whenever it is needed," O’Neill said in a statement.

If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. 

Ivan Pereira